Nan Li, Ph.D.
Blood circulation is an important regulator of hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) development. Previous studies have reported that biomechanical forces induced by blood flow play a critical role in the specification and expansion of HSCs; however, the underlying signaling mechanisms are still poorly understood. We have established a syringe pump system to study how shear stress, a fluid frictional force parallel to vessel walls, regulates hematopoietic potential in cells from aota-gonad-mesonephros region of the embryo where the first definitive HSCs arise. We are particularly interested in the cell types that respond to biomechanical forces and the mechanosensitive pathways that promote hematopoiesis. Our work will help identification of biomechanical signals important for hematopoietic commitment and expansion of HSC supply ex vivo for transplantation.