Associate Professor of Genetics
Tutor in Biological Sciences, Lady Margaret Hall
My research is focused on animal regeneration and the stem cells that power this process. The main exprimental system we us is the planarian flatworm model system to study basic questions about how tissue regeneration is orchestrated and the features of stem cell biology that facilitate this. Furthermore, we can use planarians to study the molecular mechanisms related to cancer, such as stem cell proliferation, differentiation and migration that all tightly controlled by conserved molecular mechanisms during regeneration.
Highly regenerative animals solve the regeneration problem using different cellular solutions, includng the use of pluripotent stem cells, lineage committed adult stem cells and dedifferentiation of tissue specific cells that regain potency. We hope to expand our work in planarians to investigate some of these in other appropriate animals to see if they can provide further insight into the relationship between regeneration, stem cells and ageing. For example, we have recently sequenced the genome of the amphipod crustacean Parhyale hawaiensis, that is able to regenerate its many different types of limbs. We are now investigating the regeneration and stem cell biology in these animals, which is fundamentally very different from planarians.
Kao D, Lai AG, Stamataki E, Rosic S, Konstantinides N, Jarvis E, Di Donfrancesco A, Pouchkina-Stancheva N, Semon M, Grillo M, Bruce H, Kumar S, Siwanowicz I, Le A, Lemire A, Eisen MB, Extavour C, Browne WE, Wolff C, Averof M, Patel NH, Sarkies P, Pavlopoulos A, Abooobaker AA. The genome of the crustacean Parhyale hawaiensis, a model for animal development, regeneration, immunity and lignocellulose digestion.. Elife. 2016 Nov 16;5. pii: e20062. doi: 10.7554/eLife.20062.
Solana J, Gamberi C, Mihaylova Y, Grosswendt S, Chen C, Lasko P, Rajewsky N, Aboobaker AA. The CCR4-NOT Complex Mediates Deadenylation and Degradation of Stem Cell mRNAs and Promotes Planarian Stem Cell Differentiation. PLoS Genetics 2013; 9(12):e1004003. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004003.
Blassberg RA, Felix DA, Tejada-Romero B, Aboobaker AA. PBX/extradenticle is required to re-establish axial structures and polarity during planarian regeneration. Development. 2013;140(4):730-9. doi: 10.1242/dev.082982.
Mihaylova Y, Aboobaker AA. What is it about 'eye of newt'? Genome Biol. 2013 20;14(2):106.
Aboobaker AA, Kao D. A lack of commitment for over 500 million years: conserved animal stem cell pluripotency. EMBO J. 2012 Jun 13;31(12):2747-9. doi:10.1038/emboj.2012.131.
González-Estévez C, Felix DA, Smith MD, Paps J, Morley SJ, James V, Sharp TV, Aboobaker AA. SMG-1 and mTORC1 act antagonistically to regulate response to injury and growth in planarians. PLoS Genet. 2012;8(3):e1002619. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002619.
Tan TC, Rahman R, Jaber-Hijazi F, Felix DA, Chen C, Louis EJ, Aboobaker A. Telomere maintenance and telomerase activity are differentially regulated in asexual and sexual worms. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012;109(11):4209-14. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1118885109.
- Aboobaker AA. Planarian stem cells: a simple paradigm for regeneration. Trends Cell Biol. 2011;21(5):304-11. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2011.01.005.