The main focus of Professor Aifantis' laboratory is the study of the mechanisms of hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) differentiation and transformation. The research is focused on three signaling pathways: Notch, Hedgehog (Hh) and SCF ubiquitin ligase signaling cascades, and their role in stem cell biology and function. Notch is a receptor/transcription factor initially identified in Drosophila melanogaster that is remarkably conserved during evolution. The studies have found that Notch not only affects stem cell commitment to the T lymphocyte lineage, but also transform the cells to induce fatal T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). Aifantis is studying the signaling pathways responsible for the oncogenic transformation of stem cells to identify cancer-initiating stem cells in T-ALL. Dr. Aifantis is using both loss and gain of function animal models to study the role of Hh signaling in HSC differentiation and self-renewal.
Aifantis, I., Raetz, E., Buonamici, S. (2008). Molecular pathogenesis of T cell leukemia and lymphoma. Nature Reviews Immunology, 8 (5): 380-390, 2008.
Aifantis, Iannis; Vilimas, Tomas; Buonamici, Silvia. Notches, NFkappaBs and the making of T cell leukemia. Cell cycle. 2007; 6: 403.
El Andaloussi, Abdeljabar; Graves, Stephanie; Meng, Fanyong; Mandal, Malay; Mashayekhi, Mona; Aifantis, Iannis. (2006). Hedgehog signaling controls thymocyte progenitor homeostasis and differentiation in the thymus. Nature Immunology. 7: 418-426, 2006.