Aboobaker Lab

About the Group

My research is focused on animal regeneration and the stem cells that power this process. The main experimental system we use is the planarian flatworm model system, and this allows us to study basic questions about how tissue regeneration is orchestrated and the features of stem cell biology that facilitate this. These animals rely on a population of remarkable pluripotent adult stem cells called neoblasts, that underpin this animals regeneration capacity and apparent immortality. Furthermore, we can use planarians to study the molecular mechanisms related to both cancer and aging, such as stem cell proliferation, differentiation and migration, that are all tightly controlled by conserved molecular mechanisms during regeneration.

Highly regenerative animals solve the regeneration problem using different cellular solutions, including 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, adult 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.

For more information visit: www.aboobakerlab.com


PI: Prof Aziz Aboobaker

Research Assistant: Alessia Di Donfrancesco
Postdoctoral Fellows: Dr Prasad Abnave, Dr Alvina Lai
DPhil Students: Ms Divya Sridhar, Ms Salha Rawas, Mr Leon Li, Ms Wei Wei, Mr Jakke Neiro, Mr Yian Hang
MRes Students: Mr Zac Hana, Mr Zhong (Cheng) Yap

Recent Publications

A platform for efficient transgenesis in Macrostomum lignano, a flatworm model organism for stem cell research. Jakub Wudarski, Daniil Simanov, Kirill Ustyantsev, Katrien de Mulder, Margriet Grelling, Magda Grudniewska, Frank Beltman, Lisa Glazenburg, Turan Demircan, Julia Wunderer, Weihong Qi, Dita B. Vizoso, Philipp M. Weissert, Daniel Olivieri, Stijn Mouton, Victor Guryev, Aziz Aboobaker, Lukas Scharer, Peter Ladurner, Eugene Berezikov doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/151654 Nature Communications, in press

Prasad Abnave, Ellen Aboukhatwa, Nobuyoshi Kosaka, James Thompson, Mark Hill, and Aziz Aboobaker. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition transcription factors control pluripotent adult stem cell migration in vivo in planarians. Development 2017 Oct 144: 3440-3453.  doi: 10.1242/dev.154971 http://dev.biologists.org/content/144/19/3440

Secrets from immortal worms: What can we learn about biological ageing from the planarian model system? Sounak Sahu, Anish Dattani and Aziz Aboobaker, Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology, in press

Organ specific gene expression in the regenerating tail of Macrostomum lignano. Birgit Lengerer, Julia Wunderer, Robert Pjeta, Giada Carta, Damian Kao, Aziz Aboobaker, Christian Beisel, Eugene Berezikov, Willi Salvenmoser, Peter Ladurner. Developmental Biology, in press. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2017.07.021

Alvina Lai, Nobuyoshi Kosaka, Prasad Abnave, Sounak Sahu and Aziz Aboobaker. The Abrogation Of Condensin Function Provides Independent Evidence For Defining The Self-Renewing Population Of Pluripotent Stem Cells  Developmental Biology, in press. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2017.07.023

Bridge KS, Shah KM, Li Y, Foxler DE, Wong SCK, Miller DC, Davidson KM, Foster JG, Rose R, Hodgkinson MR, Ribeiro PS, AboobakerAA, Yashiro K, Wang X, Graves PR, Plevin MJ, Lagos D, Sharp TV. Argonaute Utilization for miRNA Silencing Is Determined by Phosphorylation-Dependent Recruitment of LIM-Domain-Containing Proteins. Cell Rep. 2017 Jul 5;20(1):173-187. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.06.027. PMID: 28683311

Valenzano DR, Aboobaker A, Seluanov A, Gorbunova V. Non-canonical aging model systems and why we need them. EMBO J. 2017 Apr 13;36(8):959-963. doi:10.15252/embj.201796837. Epub 2017 Mar 20. PubMed PMID: 28320740; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5391153.

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, Aboobaker A. 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. PubMed PMID: 27849518; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5111886.

Koutsovoulos G, Kumar S, Laetsch DR, Stevens L, Daub J, Conlon C, Maroon H, Thomas F, Aboobaker AA, Blaxter M. No evidence for extensive horizontal gene transfer in the genome of the tardigrade Hypsibius dujardini. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 May 3;113(18):5053-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1600338113. Epub 2016 Mar 24. PubMed PMID: 27035985; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4983863.