Michael Kareta Lab

 Baack Lab

Primary Focus

Michael Kareta, PhD

The research in our laboratory is to study the basic mechanisms which define cellular identity, and how identity may be altered to promote disease. In particular we are currently investigating the mechanisms that “stem cell” genes play in the formation of multiple pediatric and adult tumors. We explore these foundational questions by the use of mouse genetics, cell culture, and molecular biology techniques combined with next generation genomic and bioinformatics analysis with a long term goal of generating novel therapeutics.


  • Associate Scientist in the Children’s Health Research Center
  • Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Sanford School of Medicine at the University of South Dakota
  • Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Texas A&M University
  • Doctorate of Philosophy in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of California, Davis
  • Postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Genetics and the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Stanford University

Behind the research

Our laboratory is focused on the role of pluripotency pathways in tumor formation using both genetically engineered mouse models and cellular reprogramming techniques. In particular we are investigating the role of the Sox2 gene in the formation of tumors. We have previously identified Sox2 as a downstream target of the retinoblastoma (Rb) tumor suppressor. Using induced pluripotency we observed that upon Rb loss, Sox2 is upregulated and the cells are more able to be reprogrammed to a acquire a new cellular identity. Additionally we observe that this upregulation of Sox2 is required in the formation of tumors following Rb loss. As the mechanism by which Rb loss promotes tumors is not fully understood, understanding the downstream networks activated by Rb loss will be critical for the development of future therapeutics. Therefore we will continue our study into Sox2 oncogene function using multiple genomic and cutting-edge bioinformatics approaches so that we may shed light on foundational networks in cancer and validate new targets to inhibit in the clinic.


Access Dr. Kareta’s publications here.

Meet members of the Kareta lab here.

Lab Projects

Oncogenic mechanism of Sox2 in Rb-deficient tumors

Resident Sox2+ cells are the cell of origin for neuroendocrine tumors

Positions Available

Please contact Dr. Kareta if you are interested in joining our team

Contact Information

Telephone: (605) 312-6442

Email: michael.kareta@sanfordhealth.org

Kareta Lab in the Press

Stanford Medicine News Center: Nerve cells actively repress alternative cell fates

The Stem Cellar: CIRM-funded team uncovers novel function for protein linked to autism and schizophrenia

Stanford Medicine Scope: "No" means "no" in stem cell fates

Nature Genetics: Rb links reprogramming and cancer

Stanford Medicine News Center: Tumor suppressor also inhibits key property of stem cells, researchers say

The Stem Cellar: More Than Meets the Eye: Protein that Keeps Cancer in Check also Plays Direct Role in Stem Cell Biology, a Stanford Study Finds

Lab News

April 2017, Dr. Michael Kareta recently published an article in Nature regarding a new paradigm for the regulation of cellular identity. Kareta and colleagues showed that one neuronal gene, Myt1l, established neuronal identity not by turning on neuronal genes as is common with most genetic regulators, but rather by turning off genes for other cellular identities such as skin, heart, muscle, and liver. “Mty1l safeguards neuronal identity by actively repressing many non-neuronal fates”

January 2017, Michael Kareta, PhD, attended the Keystone meeting on Cell Plasticity within the Tumor Microenvironment in Big Sky, MT. This meeting was comprised of experts in cancer, stromal and immune cells who discussed current scientific knowledge about stem cell reprogramming into cancer cells and proposed effective therapeutic approaches targeting such cancer cells.

September 2016, Dr. Kareta presented the lab’s latest findings at the Annual Center for Pediatric Research Symposium at the Sanford Center

September 2016, Dr. Kareta joined Sanford Research and opened his laboratory

March 2016, Dr. Kareta presented the lab’s latest findings as an invited speaker at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Precision Medicine Series: Cancer Cell Cycle - Tumor Progression and Therapeutic Response meeting in Orlando, FL