Cellular identity is defined by proteins. The synthesis of proteins requires an extensive biological machinery and a large proportion of cellular resources is devoted to the translation of genetic information encoded in messenger RNAs (mRNAs). Protein synthesis is modulated quantitatively and in time and space by a large network of regulators, collectively referred to as translational control. Although efforts to globally monitor gene expression have historically focused on measuring mRNA levels, it has become clear that translational control is a key determinant of cellular protein abundance and has therefore a vast potential to impact cellular fate.
Our laboratory studies the role of translational control in stem cells and cancer to understand how intrinsic and extrinsic factors impose specific protein synthesis programs that ultimately govern stem cell function and drive tumor initiation and progression. Collectively, our long-term vision is to obtain a fundamental understanding of how translational regulation determines cell fate in homeostasis and disease.