On Monday July 18th, Professor Duanqing Pei visited the CMR[B]. Dr. Pei, Director General of the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health (GIBH, Chinese Academy of Sciences) in Guangzhou (China), was invited by the Director of the CMR[B] Ángel Raya to participate in PRBB-CRG conferences. He studies the structure and function of some transcription factors (Oct4, Sox2, FoxD3, Essrb and Nanog) and their interdependent relationship towards pluripotency. Based the understanding of these factors, the Pei lab was the first in China to create mouse iPSCs (induced pluripotent stem cells) using a non-selective system, and then improved the process and disseminated the technology in China by providing resources and training workshops. Recent publications from the Pei lab includes the discovery of vitamin C as a potent booster for iPSC generation and a mesenchymal to epithelial transition initiates the reprogramming process of mouse fibroblasts. Now, he continues to explore new ways to improve iPSC technologies, dissecting the reprogramming mechanisms driven by Oct4/Sox2/Klf4 or fewer factors, and employing iPSCs to model human diseases in vitro.
In his conference at the PRBB where the CMR[B] was the host, he talked about “EMT and MET in cell fate transitions”. The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a process by which epithelial cells lose their cell polarity and cell-cell adhesion, and gain migratory and invasive properties to become mesenchymal stem cells; these are multipotent stromal cells that can differentiate into a variety of cell types. MET is the reverse process of epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT). The understanding of both processes is important for improving induced pluripotent stem cell reprogramming.
Before his conference, Dr. Pei visited the CMR[B] facilities and he met CMR[B] researchers and staff. This visit opens great opportunities for long-term collaborations, which will be fostered by a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the CMR[B] and GIBH.