​Malachia Y. Hoover's findings could lead to advances in the field of regenerative medicine by offering novel therapeutic approaches for treating degenerative diseases through the use of stem cells.

Hoover, a graduate student in Dr. Jonathan Kelber's Developmental Oncogene Laboratory, investigates the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which adult tissue-specific stem cells acquire regenerative properties. Her research proposes the well-known stem cell gene Cripto and non-muscle Myosin IIs are key regulators of regeneration.

Hoover tests her hypotheses in model biological systems, including two types of in vitro cultured mammalian epithelial cells: an in vivo model of zebrafish caudal fin regeneration and a novel ex vivo culture system derived from primary zebrafish blastemal stem cells.

Preliminary results demonstrate connections between Cripto and Myosin IIs for mammalian cells, as well as their function in adult zebrafish fin regrowth and wound healing. Additionally, Hoover has shown Myosin IIs are required for tissue regeneration in the zebrafish.​

The researchers anticipate future studies will reveal a co-regulatory role for Cripto and Myosin IIs in regulating stem cell function in tissue regeneration in vertebrates. "This project has far-reaching potential to transform the way we understand the molecular regulation of tissue regeneration," Dr. Kelber notes.