Comprendre les mécanismes cellulaire et moléculaires régissant le développement normal de la rétine : une étape essentielle vers l'utilisation de thérapies cellulaires

 

Michel Cayouette

Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal

 

Domaine : Neurosciences, santé mentale et toxicomanies

Programme chercheurs-boursiers - Senior

Concours 2013-2014

Partenaire

Fondation Antoine Turmel

Neural stem cells have the potential to generate any cell types in the nervous system and represent a promising avenue to replace lost cells after injury, stroke or disease. Disappointingly, however, when neural stem cells are transplanted into a damaged region of the nervous system, they do not always become the appropriate cell type for that region. Although different stem cell clinical trials are currently taking place around the world for various neurological conditions, much more work will be required to improve the efficiency and safety of these approaches. We believe that a better understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling how neural stem cells choose to become a particular cell type or another during normal development will be crucial to design more efficient and safer stem cell therapies.

Over the past few years, we have developed various tools and assays to study this problem in the context of the developing mouse retina, a simple and accessible part of the central nervous system that contains a manageable number of cell types that are generated by a common pool of progenitor cells. Current projects are now focusing on 1) understanding the mechanisms regulating how progenitors divide asymmetrically to give rise to two daughter cells that acquire different fates. 2) Uncovering how progenitors change over time to generate the right cell type appropriate for a given developmental stage; and 3) Elucidating how neuronal cells acquire their characteristic polarity, which is essential to carry out their highly specialized function.

To address these questions, we use mouse genetics, dissociated cell and explant culture assays, and live imaging in retinal slices. We hope that a deeper understanding of the mechanisms regulating normal retinal development will be helpful in designing efficient cell replacement therapies for diseases leading to photoreceptor degeneration and vision loss.