Cell-to-cell contact plays an important but poorly understood role in stem cell differentiation. Many proteins, such as notch, hedgehog, cadherins, and gap junctions rely on cell contact for signal transduction. The goal of this project is to probe the effects of cell contact in the differentiation of adult neural progenitor cells by high efficiency micropatterning techniques for monitoring dynamic activity or for downstream expression profiling. The adaptation of a microfluidic platform for the delivery of chemical gradients will also enable us to probe the ability of cells to laterally transmit signals via contact'mediated pathways. By understanding the role of cell-cell contact in mediating differentiation decisions, we can better understand how to maintain stem cells effectively in vitro or how best to deliver them in vivo for maximum therapeutic effect.
Project end date: 08/16/12