University of Southern California

Firth Lab

USC Stem Cell

Mechanisms of Lineage Specification and Regulation in the Developing Human Lung

Image 5

iPSCs differentiated towards lung epithelial cells. The cells shown are lung-specified anterior foregut endoderm stained with SOX2 (green) and Nkx2.1 (red). Nuclei are counterstained with DAPI (blue). (Image courtesy of the Firth Lab)

Human lung disease remains one of the highest causes of morbidity and mortailty in the world today. Death rates are increasing, drug candidates have a high failure rate and fewer new therapies are making it to market than for other common diseases. My lab developed a methodology for taking pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) and directing them to generate mature lung epithelial cells. We are using, and further developing, this as a tool to:

  • study PSC fate specification to proximal airway cells (club, basal, multiciliated and goblet cells) and distal airway cells (alveolar type I and II);
  • study disease-causing mutations during lung development;
  • identify novel cell surface markers, and isolate and expand specific populations of pulmonary epithelial cells.