Professor Aziz Aboobaker

Research Interests

Additional affiliations

Tutorial Fellow, and Dean of Lady Margaret Hall


My research is focused on animal regeneration and the stem cells that power this process. The main exprimental 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 these 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, 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.

Publications
  • Regenerative responses following DNA damage - β-catenin mediates head regrowth in the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea.

  • Downregulation of mTOR Signaling Increases Stem Cell Population Telomere Length during Starvation of Immortal Planarians.

  • Conservation of epigenetic regulation by the MLL3/4 tumour suppressor in planarian pluripotent stem cells

  • Epigenetic analyses of planarian stem cells demonstrate conservation of bivalent histone modifications in animal stem cells

  • Planarian flatworms as a new model system for understanding the epigenetic regulation of stem cell pluripotency and differentiation

  • EvoRegen in animals: Time to uncover deep conservation or convergence of adult stem cell evolution and regenerative processes.

  • Organ specific gene expression in the regenerating tail of Macrostomum lignano.

  • The abrogation of condensin function provides independent evidence for defining the self-renewing population of pluripotent stem cells.

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