Cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying intervertebral disk formation and Diversity and plasticity of adipose tissue cell niche – Meng Xie

Our research covers the area of developmental and metabolic biology. Specifically, we aim to understand:
1. Cellular dynamics that drive the formation of the intervertebral disc during embryonic development;
2. Cellular plasticity and diversity of adipose tissue in response to dietary intervention and temperature changes.

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Meng Xie

Principal Researcher

Cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying intervertebral disk formation

Low back pain has been reported to be the leading cause of disability worldwide and its lifetime prevalence is as high as 80-85%. In adults, IVD degeneration and extra pressure on the spinal cord as a result of narrowed vertebral column are common causes. In addition, congenital malformations of the spinal cord and vertebral column have been shown to be associated with serious systemic anomalies that may have delayed presentations.

Multi-colour images on black background with markings.
Multi-color genetic lineage tracings in the Sox10CreERT2;R26R-Brainbow-2.1 mouse strain show specific and unique labelling of the notochord (NC) and nucleus pulposus (NP). Photo: Meng Xie

Current treatment for low back pain is mainly limited at the palliative level, which focuses only on pain management and exercise therapy rather than reversal of the underlying pathology. A more thorough understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying spinal cord and vertebral column formation will be requisite for the development of novel therapeutic strategies at the pathological level to permanently improve the patients’ life quality.

Our goal is to explore the cellular dynamics and molecular mechanisms that drive and regulate formation of the spinal cord and vertebral column during embryonic development. We mainly use single cell/nucleus RNA sequencing and spatial transcriptomic methods combined with genetic lineage tracing to tackle these scientific questions.

Red, yellow and green on black background.
3D immunolabelling of brown adipocytes (red) and sympathetic nerve innervation (green) in peri-renal adipose tissue. Photo: Houyu Zhang

Diversity and plasticity of adipose tissue cell niche

Adipose tissue is an organ with high plasticity that can account for 4-40% of total body mass in human adults. It majorly functions in energy storage (white adipose tissue) and heat production (brown and beige adipose tissue). Excessive growth of adipose tissue leads to the onset of obesity, which is tightly associated with increased risk of type II diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and certain types of cancer.

Our goal is to explore:

  1. How diet intervention affects the cellular diversity of white adipose tissue.
  2. How environmental temperature affects the lipid composition of brown adipose tissue.

Looking for a Postdoc, Master or PhD Project?

We are constantly looking for highly motivated Master students, PhD students and postdocs who have relevant education background and strong initiative to join our team. Please contact meng.xie@ki.se for potential opportunities.

Selected publications

Secondary ossification center induces and protects growth plate structure.
Xie M, Gol'din P, Herdina AN, Estefa J, Medvedeva EV, Li L, Newton PT, Kotova S, Shavkuta B, Saxena A, Shumate LT, Metscher BD, Großschmidt K, Nishimori S, Akovantseva A, Usanova AP, Kurenkova AD, Kumar A, Arregui IL, Tafforeau P, Fried K, Carlström M, Simon A, Gasser C, Kronenberg HM, Bastepe M, Cooper KL, Timashev P, Sanchez S, Adameyko I, Eriksson A, Chagin AS
Elife 2020 Oct;9():

The epiphyseal secondary ossification center: Evolution, development and function.
Xie M, Chagin AS
Bone 2021 Jan;142():115701

Epiphyseal Cartilage Formation Involves Differential Dynamics of Various Cellular Populations During Embryogenesis.
Zhang Y, Annusver K, Sunadome K, Kameneva P, Edwards S, Lei G, Kasper M, Chagin AS, Adameyko I, Xie M
Front Cell Dev Biol 2020 ;8():122

Cruciate ligament, patellar tendon, and patella formation involves differential cellular sources and dynamics as joint cavitation proceeds.
Zhang Y, Kameneva P, Annusver K, Kasper M, Chagin AS, Adameyko I, Xie M
Dev Dyn 2020 Jun;249(6):711-722

Schwann cell precursors contribute to skeletal formation during embryonic development in mice and zebrafish.
Xie M, Kamenev D, Kaucka M, Kastriti ME, Zhou B, Artemov AV, Storer M, Fried K, Adameyko I, Dyachuk V, Chagin AS
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2019 Jul;116(30):15068-15073

Heparan sulfate proteoglycan - A common receptor for diverse cytokines.
Xie M, Li JP
Cell Signal 2019 Feb;54():115-121

AMP-Activated Kinase Regulates Lipid Droplet Localization and Stability of Adipose Triglyceride Lipase in C. elegans Dauer Larvae.
Xie M, Roy R
PLoS One 2015 ;10(6):e0130480

The Causative Gene in Chanarian Dorfman Syndrome Regulates Lipid Droplet Homeostasis in C. elegans.
Xie M, Roy R
PLoS Genet 2015 Jun;11(6):e1005284

Increased levels of hydrogen peroxide induce a HIF-1-dependent modification of lipid metabolism in AMPK compromised C. elegans dauer larvae.
Xie M, Roy R
Cell Metab 2012 Sep;16(3):322-35

An improved procedure for the purification of catalytically active alkane hydroxylase from Pseudomonas putida GPo1.
Xie M, Alonso H, Roujeinikova A
Appl Biochem Biotechnol 2011 Oct;165(3-4):823-31

Content reviewer:
Sara Bruce