The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
School of Dentistry
Department of Diagnostic and Biomedical Sciences
Bone is one of the last frontiers of the human body. Despite its inert appearance, bone is a surprisingly malleable organ that can maintain its versatile functionality throughout life. My laboratory seeks to understand the fundamental characteristics of stem cells of bones and cartilages – termed “skeletal stem cells” – and how these cells orchestrate bone development, regeneration and diseases, primarily by means of mouse genetics approaches. My laboratory has substantial expertise on in vivo cell lineage analyses, and application of this technique to interrogate the essential functionality of skeletal stem cells in vivo, in combination of single-cell genomics approaches. We are also interested in studying how skeletal stem cells interact with their neighboring cells, such as blood cells, and regulate their functions. We study skeletal stem cells across many bone compartments through the body, including those residing in the growth plate, the bone marrow and the craniofacial structure. The examples of projects that students are expected to work on include: 1) Skeletal stem cells in tumorigenesis: How do skeletal stem cells develop bone cancers (osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma and others)? 2) Skeletal stem cells in regeneration: How do skeletal stem cells coordinate bone regeneration? 3) Skeletal stem cells in bone morphogenesis: How do skeletal stem cells determine the shape of bones and underline various forms of bone deformities? In my laboratory, students will become highly skilled in: 1) management of projects involving advanced mouse genetics approaches, such as in vivo lineage-tracing and subsequent functional studies, 2) advanced techniques in fluorescence microscopy of bones and bone cell flow cytometry, and 3) application of lineage-marked bone cells to droplet-based single-cell genomics analyses as well as single-cell spatial transcriptomics. I hope to develop fun projects with students to develop a new exciting avenue for my research program.
Mizuhashi K et al. Resting zone of the growth plate harbors a unique class of skeletal stem cells. Nature. 2018. 563(7730):254-258.
Matsushita Y et al. A Wnt-mediated transformation of the bone marrow stromal cell identity orchestrates skeletal regeneration. Nat Commun. 2020. 11(1):332.
Hallett SA et al. Chondrocytes in the resting zone of the growth plate are maintained in a Wnt-inhibitory environment. eLife. 2021. 10:e64513.
Education & Training
PhD, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, 2007
DDS, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, 2003