The Kim lab is interested in the roles of transcription factors and epigenetic regulators in pluripotent stem cells and cancer cells. Pluripotent stem cells, such as embryonic stem (ES) cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are most remarkable for their two distinct properties: first, self-renewal, the ability of these stem cells to be maintained in a proliferative state, and second, pluripotency, the ability of generating cells of all germ layers, and indeed all cell types in adult organisms. The above characteristics of ES cells have made them a potential source or tool for genetic manipulation and stem cell therapies.
Defining the molecular mechanisms maintaining stemness is of great interest for understanding early development and for their potential therapeutic applications in regenerative medicine. Systematic understanding of the mechanisms controlling the stemness of pluripotent stem cells relies on high-throughput tools to define gene expression and regulatory networks at the genome level. Recent studies have revealed highly interconnected ES cell specific regulatory networks in which combinations of hundreds of transcription factors and their genomic targets are tightly involved. Studies on these network is not only critical for elucidating stem cell maintenance but also important in understanding global regulatory program required in generating cellular diversity during normal development as well as abnormal development such as tumor formation.
Our laboratory studies transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of pluripotent stem cells using a broad panel of techniques including molecular biology and high-throughput genomics approaches in combination with computational analysis. Particularly, our research interests mainly focus on 1) construction of novel regulatory networks controlling stemness of ES cells and iPS cells, 2) identifying transcription factors involved in early embryonic development and lineage specification, and 3) understanding regulatory networks modulating common gene expression signatures between pluripotent stem cells and cancer cells.