Welcome to the Ruohola-Baker Lab

Ruohola-Baker laboratory is interested in understanding the molecules and cellular properties that are required for stemness both in normal and pathological situations. During the recent years the lab has shown that microRNAs and HIF pathway play key roles in regulating adult and embryonic stem cell self-renewal in model organisms as well as in hESC and iPSC. Through unbiased Drosophila interaction screen they discovered that increasing the sphingosine- 1-phosphate pathway (S1P) has therapeutic effects on muscular dystrophies. Increased S1P levels also show a beneficial effect in adult stem cell based muscle regeneration in mdx, the mouse DMD model. The lab is now in the process of analyzing the function of metabolomic differences in stem cells, as well as microRNAs function in maturation and regeneration. These studies are directed towards a long-term goal of stem cell and small molecule based therapeutics.

miRNA function in Stem Cells

One of the key characteristics of stem cells is their capacity to self-renew throughout the lifetime of an animal. Stem Cell self-renewing division is tightly controlled process; too little division disrupts the homeostasis of the tissue while too much can result in cancer. We and others have recently shown that miRNAs are required for germ line stem cell division in Drosophila (Hatfield et al., 2005; Shcherbata et al ., 2006). We are now in the process of identifying and analyzing the regulation of critical miRNAs in stem cell division.

 

Drosophila as a model for Human diseases

Most of our studies of the Notch pathway have been aimed at understanding how this pathway acts in patterning and how it interacts with other signaling pathways (Ruohola et al., 1991; Larkin et al., 1996, 1999; Tworoger et al., 1998; Jordan et al., 2000; Jordan et al ., 2005; Althauser et al., 2005; Ward et al., 2006). More recently we have discovered that Notch also acts in control of cell division (Deng et al., 2001; Schaeffer et al., 2004; Shcherbata et al., 2004; Jordan et al., 2006).

 

Dystroglycan function in polarity

Halyna Shcherbata, Emily Kerr, Luis Tulloch, Larissa Patterson, Karin Fischer, Betsy Gray, Kate Johnson, Christian Walker-Richards, Merle Gilbert, Volodya Shcherbatyy, Andriy Yatsenko

 

Notch function in polarity and cell cycle control

Valerie Schaeffer, Halyna Shcherbata, Kathie Jordan, Aliya Hashemi, Volodya Shcherbatyy, Andriy Yatsenko