Proliferation and Fate Regulation of Stem Cells

Homem Catarina-0013

Catarina Homem

Principal Investigator
PhD in Biology, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill/ University NOVA of Lisbon
PhD candidate; 3rd Gulbenkian PhD Programme in Biomedicine (PGDB3)
Graduation in Biochemistry, Porto University




Campus Sant'Ana
Pólo de Investigação, NMS, UNL
Rua do Instituto Bacteriológico, nº 5
Lab 2.4
1150-082 Lisboa, Portugal

Phone: (+351) 218 803 101 (Ext. 27014)
Lab Ext: 27015
E-mail: catarina.homem(at)




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Main interests

In every animal embryo, stem cells are required for the development, growth and regeneration of tissues and organs. At some point, the stem cells have done their job and must disappear. In fact, in adult animals only a few stem cells are still present.
However if unnecessary stem cells are left behind, malignant tumors can develop from them, in contrast if they disappear prematurely developmental defects can occur.

One and half orangesOur group uses the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model to study the mechanisms that regulate stem cell proliferation and fate during development. We are mainly focused in how temporal cues regulate the proliferation and fate of neural stem cells and their daughter cells. We are also studying how metabolism and nutrition affect stem cells and consequently animal development.

The understanding of how stem cells are temporally regulated and how they are influenced by external signals is crucial for the understanding of many developmental diseases, tumors and for their use in regenerative medicine.



FIND OUT MORE about the Proliferation and Fate Regulatuon of Stem Cells Lab Research in the following news:

- Cientista portuguesa descobre papel de um gene na regulação celular com implicações no cancro
- A diaphanous control during embryo formation
- Cientista portuguesa descobre relação entre um gene específico e o cancro
- Wie sich Stammzellen zu Tode hungern
- Wiener Forscher entdeckten, wie sich Stammzellen selbst beseitigen
- Stem cells go on a diet
- How brain tumors develop from stem cells



ERC Starting Grant- Stem Cell Habitat


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EMBO Installation Grant - Temporal and metabolic regulation of stem cells


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HHMI-Wellcome International Research Scholar

This website is part of a project that has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant agreement No. 759853).

Selected Publications
  • Homem CC, Repic M, Knoblich JA. (2015) Proliferation control in neural stem and progenitor cells. Nat Rev Neurosci. Epub ahead of print. doi: 10.1038/nrn4021.
  • Homem CC, Steinmann V, Burkard TR, Jais A, Esterbauer H, Knoblich JA. (2014) Ecdysone and mediator change energy metabolism to terminate proliferation in Drosophila neural stem cells.
    Cell; 158(4):874-88. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.06.024
  • Eroglu E, Burkard TR, Jiang Y, Saini N, Homem CC, Reichert H, Knoblich JA. (2014) SWI/SNF complex prevents lineage reversion and induces temporal patterning in neural stem cells.
    Cell; 156(6):1259-73. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.01.053.
  • Homem CC, Reichardt I, Berger C, Lendl T, Knoblich JA. (2013) Long-term live cell imaging and automated 4D analysis of drosophila neuroblast lineages.
    PLoS One; 8(11):e79588. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079588. eCollection 2013.
  • Homem CC, Knoblich JA. (2012) Drosophila neuroblasts: a model for stem cell biology. Development; 139(23):4297-310. doi: 10.1242/dev.080515
  • Homem CC, Peifer M. (2009) Exploring the roles of diaphanous and enabled activity in shaping the balance between filopodia and lamellipodia. Mol Biol Cell; 20(24):5138-55. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E09-02-0144.
  • Gates J, Nowotarski SH, Yin H, Mahaffey JP, Bridges T, Herrera C, Homem CC, Janody F, Montell DJ, Peifer M. (2009) Enabled and Capping protein play important roles in shaping cell behavior during Drosophila oogenesis. Dev Biol; 333(1):90-107. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2009.06.030.
  • Homem CC, Peifer M. (2008) Diaphanous regulates myosin and adherens junctions to control cell contractility and protrusive behavior during morphogenesis. Development; 135(6):1005-18. doi: 10.1242/dev.016337.
  • Stevens TL, Rogers EM, Koontz LM, Fox DT, Homem CC, Nowotarski SH, Artabazon NB, Peifer M. (2008) Using Bcr-Abl to examine mechanisms by which abl kinase regulates morphogenesis in Drosophila. Mol Biol Cell; 19(1):378-93. PMID: 17959833 Free PMC Article
  • Fox DT, Homem CC, Myster SH, Wang F, Bain EE, Peifer M. (2005) Rho1 regulates Drosophila adherens junctions independently of p120ctn. Development; 132(21):4819-31. PMID: 16207756 Free Article

StemCellHabitat - ERC Starting Grant

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells capable of dividing several times to self-renew and to generate more specialized cells essential for tissue, organ and ultimately whole organism formation. Stem cells exist not only in embryos but also in adults, where they are involved in tissue homeostasis and repair. Stem cells harbor a great potential for regenerative medicine since they are potentially great sources of new specialized cells. Although several aspects of stem cell biology are understood it is still not fully known how stem cells are directed to generate specific differentiated cells or how to efficiently regulate stem cell proliferation. Stem cells normally undergo waves of proliferation and quiescence and change the type of differentiated cells they generate throughout animal development. This project aims at studying how stem cells are normally regulated during animal development according to their spatial, temporal and metabolic identity to determine their proliferation and the type of differentiated cells formed. To answer these questions, this project uses Drosophila melanogaster, an animal complex enough to be similar to higher eukaryotes and yet simple enough to dissect the mechanistic details of cell regulation and its impact on the organism. Drosophila has several stem cell populations all dynamically regulated during development and is thus a fantastic model to study stem cells. Using a multidisciplinary approach combining genetics, cell type/age sorting, multi-omics analysis, fixed and 3D-live stem cell imaging and metabolite dynamics, this project proposes an integrative approach to investigate how stem cells are regulated in the developing animal.

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Left: Drosophila brain with a neural stem cell derived Tumor. Neural stem cells (known as neuroblasts) labeled in red, tumor cells marked in green.
Right: Wild-type Drosophila brain. Neural stem cells in red; neurons in blue; neuronal lineages generated by neural stem cells outlined in green.

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This website is part of a project that has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant agreement No. 759853).


1 Postdoctoral Fellow

1 ERC funded position for a postdoctoral fellow is currently open for a highly motivated candidate to join the Proliferation and Fate Regulation of Stem Cells Lab @ CEDOC-NOVA Medical School in Lisbon.

The research project aims to study how neural and adult stem cell fate is regulated by transcriptional networks and metabolism using the fruit fly as a model. The project includes state of the art methodologies, access to dedicated equipment and an interactive team with international collaborations.

Applications start on May 1st and will continue until the position is filled.

To apply, send one single PDF file including CV, cover letter and the name of three referees to Dr. Catarina Homem (catarina.homem(at)

- 2 Postdoctoral positions

2 ERC funded positions for postdoctoral fellows are currently open for a highly motivated candidates to join the Proliferation and Fate Regulation of Stem Cells Lab.

The positions are initially funded for one year, with possibilities of extension until the end of the project. Applications start on September 1st and will continue until the positions are filled.

Position 1 - The research project aims to study how stem cells are regulated by metabolism and nutrition using the fruit fly as a model.
Position 2 – Ideally for researchers with a bioinformatic background. The research project aims to do extensive bioinformatic analysis of large sequencing data sets.

To apply, send one single PDF file including CV, cover letter and the name of three referees to Dr. Catarina Homem (catarina.homem(at)

Team photos

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Grupo Prof. Catarina Homem 2017-04-04 -