Stem Cells Grown on Microdot Plates, Version #5

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Submitted by Yarden Katz of the Burge Lab in the Department of Biology and the Jaenisch Lab in the Whitehead Institute

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Yarden Katz
Burge Lab, Department of Biology and Jaenisch Lab, Whitehead Institute
Confocal Micrograph

"This image shows stem cells grown on “microdot” plates. These are custom made tissue culture plates, where cells can only grow in defined diameter regions – called microdots, which are ~300 um in diameter – and not elsewhere on the plate. This techniques allows separation and tracking of single cells, while allowing cells to freely ‘communicate’ by secreting survival and growth factors to each other.

I work with mammalian neural stem cells, which are stem cells that give rise to mature cells of the nervous system. Some stem cells can only make one type of nervous system cell, while others can make many distinct types. I am trying to understand what makes a single stem cell differentiate into one cell type versus another, and measure which stem cells are “multipotent”, i.e. can give rise to multiple cell distinct cell types, and which are restricted in their potential and only form one cell type."