Stem Cells, Development, Regeneration

How do multicellular organisms develop from a single cell

Scientists at the Vienna BioCenter are using their cutting-edge research infrastructure to uncover the signaling steps and regulatory mechanisms that control tissue, organ, and organismal development. This area of research has enormous biological and medical relevance, providing insights into developmental diseases and cancer, as well as tissue and organ regeneration.

The development of a complex, multicellular organism from a single cell is one of the most fascinating processes in biology. At the heart of this process are stem cells, which are not only key during development but also for the homeostasis and regeneration of adult tissues. The Vienna BioCenter is an internationally acclaimed stem cell research center, fostering practical training and bioethics discussions, and hosting an annual, international stem cell symposium, SY-Stem, which focuses on shaping the next generation of stem cell researchers.

By following stem cells and their prodigy over the course of differentiation and development, scientists at the Vienna BioCenter are learning how undifferentiated cells either acquire tissue-specific properties or divide to produce more stem cells. They also study how differentiated cells can be reprogrammed back to pluripotency. The mechanisms whereby self-renewal is established, maintained, and lost often involve gene regulation and epigenetics. Researchers at the Vienna BioCenter use their novel insights into these mechanisms to discover how adult tissue stem cells (including those of the nervous system, hematopoietic system, and heart) support homeostasis and regeneration, and how tumor stem cells cause cancer.

The developmental biology research focuses on embryogenesis and organogenesis, including brain and heart development, while regeneration research includes work in worms, as well as salamanders, which have the remarkable ability to regenerate their limbs and spinal cords.

‘Organoids’ have become invaluable tools for studying development. These 3D ‘mini-organs’ recapitulate organ development in vitro and can also be derived from patients to study the effects of specific, natural mutations and to screen for effective therapeutics. Scientists at the Vienna BioCenter produced the first brain organoids and also work with gut, spinal cord, heart, and retinal organoids.

Another major technological advance came from the discovery of haploid embryonic stem cells in mice, allowing systematic genetic screens in mammals to identify novel players in stem cell maintenance and exit from self-renewal, which are both key mechanisms underlying development and disease.

Research Groups "Stem Cells, Development, Regeneration"

Research Group Institute Topic
Mittelsten Scheid GMI Epigenetic Changes in Plants
Nodine GMI Small RNA Functions in Plant Embryos
Bell IMBA Mechanisms of epigenetic memory
Brennecke IMBA Transposon silencing & heterochromatin formation by small RNAs
Elling IMBA Functional genomics in embryonic stem cells
Knoblich IMBA Brain development and disease
Koo IMBA Homeostatic regulation of adult stem cells
Mendjan IMBA Molecular control of human organogenesis
Penninger IMBA Modeling human disease
Tachibana IMBA Chromatin reprogramming in totipotent stem cells
Urban IMBA Systemic regulation of adult neurogenesis
Rivron IMBA Synthetic development
Busslinger IMP Stem cell commitment in haematopoiesis
Cochella IMP Transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms of cell-type specification
Keays IMP Neuronal migration and magnetoreception
Obenauf IMP Molecular mechanisms of metastasis and drug resistance
Pauli IMP Functions of short translated open reading frames (ORFs) in the context of development
Tanaka IMP Molecular mechanisms of vertebrate regeneration
Baccarini Max Perutz Labs Deciphering the MAPK pathway in vivo
Buecker Max Perutz Labs Transcriptional Regulation during Early Embryonic Development
Jantsch Max Perutz Labs Meiosis in C. elegans
Leeb Max Perutz Labs Molecular control of cell fate decisions
Raible Max Perutz Labs Origin and Diversification of Hormone Systems
Weitzer Max Perutz Labs Somatic Stem Cells of the Heart