Title: Faculty & research interests





Benjamin  Ohlstein
Benjamin Ohlstein, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor
Full Member

Department: Genetics and Development

HHSC 1130

Personal Website

Disease Models: Cancer, Gastrointestinal Disorders

Stem Cell Categories: Tissue progenitors

Model Organisms: Human, Invertebrate

Themes: Internal Organs, Stem Cell Biology

The midguts of Drosophila, like vertebrate intestines, are made up of enterocytes interspersed with hormone producing enteroendocrine cells. However, unlike in vertebrates, ISCs had not been previously described in Drosophila. Using lineage labeling, we are able to demonstrate that the Drosophila adult midgut is replenished by a group of intestinal stem cells. Drosophila ISCs, like vertebrate ISCs, are multipotent, producing both enterocytes and enteroendocrine cells. The relatively small cell number and simplicity of the Drosophila midgut allows one to identify ISCs morphologically under various conditions. Moreover, it is possible to remove gene function in marked clones of these cells in order to decipher the nature and directionality of signaling events. Ultimately, a better understanding of the biology of the Drosophila ISC and its progeny, with striking similarities to their vertebrate counterparts, should help with diagnosis, treatment, and eventually cures of a wide spectrum of clinical conditions that affect the human gastrointestinal tract.


Mathur D, Bost A, Driver I, Ohlstein B
A transient niche regulates the specification of Drosophila intestinal stem cells. Science 327(5962):210-213. (2010)

Ohlstein B. and Spradling, A
Multipotent Drosophila intestinal stem cells specify daughter cell fates by differential Notch signaling. Science 315:988-992. (2007)

Buszczak, M., Paterno, S., Lighthouse, D., Bachman, J., Plank, J., Owen, S., Skora, A., Nystul, T., Ohlstein, B., Allen, A., Wilhelm, J., Murphy, T., Levis, R., Matunis, E., Srivali, N., Hoskins, R. and A.C. Spradling
The Carnegie protein trap library: a versatile tool for Drosophila developmental studies. Genetics 175:1505-1531. (2007)

Ohlstein B. and Spradling, A
The adult Drosophila posterior midgut is maintained by pluripotent stem cells. Nature 439:470-474. (2006)

Ohlstein B, Kai T, Decotto E, and Spradling A
The stem cell niche: theme and variations. Curr Opin Cell Biol 16:693-99. (2004)

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