Regulation of Signaling Pathways Within the Stem Cell Niche
The Hofmann laboratory studies the biology of male germ line stem cells, which are precursors of sperm cells. These cells are of particular importance because 1) within their testicular niche they are unipotent and thus provide a straightforward model to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying stem cell proliferation versus differentiation; 2) in certain conditions these cells can revert to a pluripotent state and give rise to tissues belonging to the three embryonic germ layer, providing a source of stem cells for tissue engineering; 3) accumulation of mutations in these cells will lead to testicular tumors or male infertility. We are particularly interested in the influence of the cellular microenvironment on the fate of these cells during development and disease. In addition, we are studying the effects of environmental toxicants and targeted cancer therapies on these cells, which may influence patient fertility.
Other research in the lab is focused on the pathogenesis and biology of thyroid cancer cells and cancer stem cells. We are also interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms of acquired resistance to tyrosine kinase targeted therapies.