Centre INRS–Institut Armand-Frappier
531, boulevard des Prairies
Laval (Québec) H7V 1B7
T:450 687-5010, poste 4408
krista.heinonen [at] iaf.inrs.ca
Ph.D. McGill University
Adult and fetal hematopoiesis
Hematopoietic stem cells; leukemias
Dr. Heinonen completed her Ph.D. at McGill University in 2006. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), she joined Institut Armand Frappier in November 2011.
All cells of the adult immune system are derived from a small number of bone marrow hematopoietic stem cells (HSC). In addition to being able to develop into the different blood cell lineages, HSC also have the unique capacity to self-renew. The number of HSCs is tightly regulated and unbalanced proliferation and differentiation can lead to multiple immune-related illnesses, such as inflammatory diseases, autoimmunity, immune deficiency and cancer (leukemias and lymphomas).
HSC interaction with the bone marrow microenvironment is necessary for their self-renewal. These interactions are often altered in the case of leukemias, for example. On the other hand, one of the technical challenges in the field is to develop methods for stem cell expansion in culture while limiting the loss of their self-renewal capacity. Our research projects can be divided in three main themes:
1) the role of Wnt/Frizzled6 signaling in the interactions of HSC with the bone marrow stroma;
2) the differences in Wnt signaling between fetal and adult HSC; and
3) the impact of Wnt signaling on the development of immune-related pathologies, such as myeloid leukemias.