Primary Research Focus
The Faustino lab investigates systems biology of the pluripotent nucleus, and how specific nuclear proteins orchestrate the intricate signaling framework underlying stem cell identity and function. Our approach integrates next generation sequencing and bioinformatic analysis with cell culture, molecular biology, and biochemistry techniques to resolve the molecular interactome that gives rise to the unique cellular properties associated with pluripotency. Ultimately, elucidating systems biology functions of the nucleus in a stem cell context is critical to our understanding of pluripotent biology for precise reparative and therapeutic strategies.
Behind the research
Nucleoporins (nups) are a group of highly conserved eukaryotic proteins that comprise the nuclear pore complex. This intricate, megadalton structure resides within the nuclear envelope and links the cytoplasmic and nuclear compartments, acting as the main gateway essential to nucleocytoplasmic transport. Diverse and alternative functions for individual nups apart from their role in molecular trafficking have been identified that range from epigenomic control to directing nuclear mobility, all with developmental impacts and implications for disease etiology.
Stem cells provide a unique opportunity to study nups in a naïve functional background. In addition to being the most prominent feature of a stem cell, the nucleus is highly plastic prior to differentiation and its malleable transcriptome is part of a unique interplay of internal and external nuclear mechanisms that dictate downstream functionality of the stem cell and its ability to acquire distinct and specific fates. A systems biology-based inspection of the expanding functional repertoire of nups in a pluripotent setting provides fundamental insights into underlying molecular network relationships that drive stem cell biology. This understanding is critical for knowledge breakthroughs, with the ultimate goal of advancing strategies for precision-based medicine to treat developmental disease.