2023 CIBSS Award for Nina Cabezas-Wallscheid

The Freiburg Cluster of Excellence honors the researcher’s contribution to understanding blood stem cell dormancy

January 15, 2024

Dr. Nina Cabezas-Wallscheid received the 2023 CIBSS award for her publication “Hyaluronic acid–GPRC5C signalling promotes dormancy in haematopoietic stem cells.” The paper sheds light on a previously unknown signalling mechanism that controls whether stem cells in the bone marrow remain dormant or actively divide to make more blood cells.

With the CIBSS Award, the Cluster's Steering Board, together with the Scientific Advisory Board, annually honours a CIBSS member who has published a particularly important paper that exemplifies integrative signalling research.

The awarded study was led by the Cabezas-Wallscheid research group and co-authored by other CIBSS researchers. They describe a unique signalling pathway that controls the dormancy state of human bone marrow haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). Using single-cell RNA-sequencing and multiple biochemical and cell-based assays, they show that the extracellular matrix molecule hyaluronic acid signals through the cell surface receptor GPRC5C to promote HSC dormancy. The regulation of HSC dormancy ensures the maintenance of their stem cell properties and enables a healthy replenishment of blood cells.

Cabezas-Wallscheid is a group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics (MPI-IE) in Freiburg and principal investigator within the Cluster of Excellence CIBSS. In her CIBSS project, Cabezas-Wallscheid studies the role of GPRC5C in regulating hematopoietic stem cells in mice. The new study elucidates how the signalling pathways analysed in this project translate to humans.

Read more about the study

The quietest stem cells are the most powerful
How hyaluronic acid protects your stem cells from proliferative stress more

What is CIBSS?

»CIBSS – Centre for Integrative Biological Signalling Studies« is a Cluster of Excellence at the University of Freiburg funded by the DFG and aims at comprehensive understanding of signalling processes across biological scales. CIBSS was selected in the 2018 Excellence Initiative for substantial funding. By integrating signalling research with synthetic biology, chemical biology, cutting-edge technologies, and the emerging field of metabolism research, CIBSS aims to make fundamental discoveries in the field of signalling research and to open up new possibilities to address global challenges in biomedicine and plant sciences.

Directors and group leaders of the MPI of Immunobiology and Epigenetics are significantly involved in the cluster such as  Asifa Akhtar, Nina Cabezas-Wallscheid, Valérie Hilgers, Nicola Iovino.

Original press release

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