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2023 CIBSS Award goes to Nina Cabezas-Wallscheid

The Cluster of Excellence honors the researcher’s contribution to understanding blood stem cell dormancy

Dr. Nina Cabezas-Wallscheid received the 2023 CIBSS award for her publication “Hyaluronic acid–GPRC5C signalling promotes dormancy in haematopoietic stem cells.” The paper sheds light on a previously unknown signalling mechanism that controls whether stem cells in the bone marrow remain dormant or actively divide to make more blood cells.

Dr. Nina Cabezas-Wallscheid. Image: Jürgen Gocke, CIBSS / University of Freiburg

With the CIBSS Award, the Cluster's Steering Board, together with the Scientific Advisory Board, annually honours a CIBSS member who has published a particularly important paper that exemplifies integrative signalling research.

The awarded study was led by the Cabezas-Wallscheid research group and co-authored by other CIBSS researchers. They describe a unique signalling pathway that controls the dormancy state of human bone marrow haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). Using single-cell RNA-sequencing and multiple biochemical and cell-based assays, they show that the extracellular matrix molecule hyaluronic acid signals through the cell surface receptor GPRC5C to promote HSC dormancy. The regulation of HSC dormancy ensures the maintenance of their stem cell properties and enables a healthy replenishment of blood cells.

Dr. Nina Cabezas-Wallscheid (left) receives the CIBSS Award from CIBSS speaker Prof. Dr. Carola Hunte during the CIBSS General Assembly on 7 December. Image: Michal Rössler, CIBSS / University of Freiburg

Cabezas-Wallscheid is a group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics (MPI-IE) in Freiburg and principal investigator within the Cluster of Excellence CIBSS. In her CIBSS project, Cabezas-Wallscheid studies the role of GPRC5C in regulating hematopoietic stem cells in mice. The new study elucidates how the signalling pathways analysed in this project translate to humans.

A more detailed summary of the publication can be found here:

The quietest stem cells are the most powerful


Original publication

Zhang YW, Mess J, Aizarani N, Mishra P,  Johnson C,  Romero-Mulero MR, Rettkowski J, Schönberger K, Obier N, Jäcklein K, Woessner NM, Lalioti M, Velasco-Hernandez T, Sikora K, Wäsch R, Lehnertz B,  Sauvageau G, Manke T, Menendez P, Walter SG, Minguet S, Laurenti E, Günther S, Grün D, Cabezas Wallscheid N. Hyaluronic acid–GPRC5C signalling promotes dormancy in haematopoietic stem cells. In: Nat Cell Biol (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41556-022-00931-x