Fall 2012 John H. Tietze Stem Cell Scientist Awards

The John H. Tietze Stem Cell Scientist Award is a one year award of $25,000 to support the research of any FACULTY member of ISCRM who is pursuing novel preliminary experiments, where the grant might provide sufficient stimulus to enable the research to advance to the point of being competitive for external funding. The research should involve or be relevant to some aspect of stem or progenitor cell biology or therapies.

Wenqing Xu, PhD

Professor, Department of Biological Structure
University of Washington School of Medicine

Xu Abstract:
The Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway, activated by simultaneous binding of a Wnt ligand to its receptor Frizzled and co-receptor Lrp5/6, is critical in many aspects of stem cell biology. Typical Wnt proteins are not suitable for therapeutic uses since purified Wnt proteins have low solubility due to lipid modification. It is highly desirable to develop soluble Wnt ligands for stem cell studies and for potential therapeutic use. Here we will visualize, through structural determination using X-ray crystallography, how a soluble atypical Wnt pathway activator, Norrin, interacts with Frizzled4 and Lrp5/6 and activates the Wnt signaling pathway. Based on this structural information, we aim to design novel Wnt-like ligands to control Wnt signaling in different cell types, which will be useful for stem cell researches and for regenerative medicine.