My lab strives to understand the molecular underpinnings of cell fate specification and differentiation using bone development and homeostasis in the mouse as a model system. Our studies focus primarily on the skeletal stem cell (SSC), which is a multipotent progenitor that gives rise to bone-forming osteoblasts. As SSC differentiate into osteoblasts they increase the consumption and metabolism of the amino acid glutamine. Importantly, we and others have determined that glutamine metabolism regulates multiple stages of osteoblast differentiation and bone formation. This raises many important questions. We are interested in many aspects of glutamine metabolism including the following:
- How is glutamine uptake regulated in SSC and osteoblasts?
- What are the glutamine transporters?
- How is glutamine utilized to regulate SSC proliferation, osteoblast differentiation, and bone formation?
- What are the molecular signals that regulate glutamine uptake and metabolism?
- How are these processes affected with age and in diseases like osteoporosis?
- Can we stimulate glutamine uptake and/or metabolism and promote osteoblast differentiation and increase bone formation?