Developing Methods to Control Cell-State Transitions

Lei Wang

BioE/COS Assistant Professor Lei Wang’s research on “Sensing and Guiding Cell-state Transitions by Using Genetically Encoded Endoribonuclease-mediated MicroRNA Sensors” was published in Nature Biomedical Engineering.


Precisely sensing and guiding cell-state transitions via the conditional genetic activation of appropriate differentiation factors is challenging. Here we show that desired cell-state transitions can be guided via genetically encoded sensors, whereby endogenous cell-state-specific miRNAs regulate the translation of a constitutively transcribed endoribonuclease, which, in turn, controls the translation of a gene of interest. We used this approach to monitor several cell-state transitions, to enrich specific cell types and to automatically guide the multistep differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem cells towards a haematopoietic lineage via endothelial cells as an intermediate state. Such conditional activation of gene expression is durable and resistant to epigenetic silencing and could facilitate the monitoring of cell-state transitions in physiological and pathological conditions and eventually the ‘rewiring’ of cell-state transitions for applications in organoid-based disease modelling, cellular therapies and regenerative medicine.

Related Departments:Bioengineering