Cheng-Yu Lee

Our Research

Stem cells are progenitors that maintain stemness (self-renewal) while generating diverse differentiated cell types. Thus, a stem cell's decision to self-renew or to differentiate has profound consequences in development, homeostasis and regeneration. Recently, the role of cancer stem cells in several types of malignancies has been demonstrated; many parallels exist between normal and cancer stem cells - specifically, their ability to self-renew extensively and to generate a wide variety of differentiated cell types. Thus, elucidation of the molecular mechanisms leading to self-renewal or to differentiation is beneficial for both stem and cancer biology. We use Drosophila neural stem cells as a model to study regulation of self-renewal vs. differentiation.

About Cheng-Yu Lee

  • Neural stem cells

Cheng-Yu Lee uses neural stem cells from the fruit fly Drosophila to study the process of cell self-renewal versus differentiation. By using a combined genetic, biochemical, and genomic approach, Lee wants to understand the specific mechanism of neural stem cells, with implications for human degenerative diseases like Parkinson's.

Research: Neural stem cells

Drosophila larval brains stained with antibody markers for neural stem cells (green) and neurons (magenta). Wild type brains (left) possess both neural stem cells and a large number of neurons whereas the mutant (right) brains possess mostly neural stem cells and extremely few neurons indicative of failure in differentiation resulting in a stem cell tumor-like phenotype.

Recent publications

Kuang, C., Golden, K.L., Simon, C.R., Damrath, J., Buttitta, L., Gamble, C., & Lee, C.Y. (2014). A novel Fizzy/Cdc20-dependent mechanism suppresses necrosis in neural stem cells. Development 141:1453-64

Komori, H., Xiao, Q., McCartney, B., & Lee, C.Y. (2014). Brain tumor specified intermediate progenitor cells by attenuating β-catenin/Armadillo activity. Development 141:1-12

Xiao, Q., Komori, H. & Lee, C.Y. (2012) klumpfuss distinguishes stem cells from progenitor cells during asymmetric neuroblast division. Development, 139: 2670-2680.

Haenfler, J.M., Kuang, C., & Lee, C.Y. (2012). Cortical aPKC kinase activity distinguishes neural stem cells from progenitor cells by ensuring asymmetric segregation of Numb. Developmental Biology, 365: 219-28.

Weng, M., Haenfler, J.M., & Lee, C.Y. (2011). Changes in Notch signaling coordinates maintenance and differentiation of the Drosophila larval optic lobe neuroepithelia. Dev Neurobiol. 365:219-28