The Coon Research Group has the overarching goal of catalyzing evolution in the rapidly growing field of proteomics and using these technologies to address fundamental problems in developmental biology. With emphasis on ion chemistry and instrumentation, we seek to develop and apply new enabling mass spectrometry-based (MS) proteomic technologies. These cutting-edge tools allow us to examine, with unprecedented chemical detail and sensitivity, the molecular events that commit human embryonic stem cells (hES cells) to exit the pluripotent state. Here we focus on both intracellular signaling and the epigenetic regulation of pluripotency. For the former we ask which branches of the FGF signaling pathway are active in hES cells and which proteins/networks are phosphorylated upon differentiation. Epigenetics is believed to play a critical role in the establishment and maintenance of pluripotency; thus, we have also aimed our new technologies at interpreting the epigenetic codes and monitoring message changes during hES cell differentiation.
Professor Joshua Coon and former graduate student Justin Brumbaugh discuss their recent Nature Method’s paper with Wisconsin Public Television.