Almost 5 years ago we started working on a project to look at stem cell migration in planarians. We established a great collaboration with Mark Hill and James Thompson at the Oxford Institute of Radiation Oncology which allowed us to improve on existing methods of targeted X-ray irradiation to ablate stem cells in some parts of the body and not others. This allowed us to generate the stripes that feature on the cover image below.
Ellen Aboukhatwa a Masters students bravely started this project, but when she left Prasad took up the mantle and developed robust approaches to measuring cell migration. He has been able to show that EMT Transcription factors have a conserved role in this process, this means what we find using this system could be very informative for own biology.
This means we can generate stripes of stem cells and easily follow them as they migrate from the stripe to rest of the body.
This work has been really exciting to do and has been leading us to lots of even more exciting follow up questions.
Like what actually happens to stem cells as they migrate and how do they know where to go?