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Kenneth Zaret, Ph.D.

University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Cell & Developmental Biology

Univ of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine, 3400 Civic Center Blvd., Bldg. 421
Philadelphia, PA 19104-5157

p. 215-573-5813
f. 215-898-9871
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Kenneth Zaret, Ph.D. - Investigator Profile

The main focus of the laboratory is to understand how genes are activated and different cell types are formed in mammalian development. Mechanistic understanding of these issues is critical for rational approaches to maintain human health and to combat human disease. The issues are also fundamental to the science of biology, challenging, and interesting to study. The laboratory has two general experimental strategies. First, we investigate the signalling pathways that commit an undifferentiated cell to a particular cell type fate, using the specification of embryonic endoderm to pancreas and liver cells as a model.  We also investigate later steps of differentiation to the beta cell.  Second, we investigate the ways that transcriptional regulatory proteins control the packaging of genes, or chromatin structure, during cell type specification, using in vitro and in vivo model systems. Both strategies stimulate one another in the laboratory, in that understanding regulatory signals in development provides critical biological contexts within which chromatin transitions should be investigated, and understanding the molecular transitions in chromatin structure helps identify targets for regulatory signals that control developmental processes.

Scientific Interests/Keywords

specification of pancreatic progenitors, endocrine progenitors, beta cells, cell signaling, chromatin, and transcriptional mechanisms


Publication Citation
21958075 Petersen DR, Gustavsen C, Lindskog SR, Magnuson MA, Zaret KS, Serup P Engineering Artificial Signaling Centers to Polarize Embryoid Body Differentiation. (2011) Stem Cells Dev : (Added 2012-01-26 08:56:39.179355)
21596989 Xu CR, Cole PA, Meyers DJ, Kormish J, Dent S, Zaret KS Chromatin "prepattern" and histone modifiers in a fate choice for liver and pancreas. (2011) Science 332: 963-6 (Added 2012-01-26 08:56:47.348108)
20414295 Zaret KS, White MF Diabetes forum: Extreme makeover of pancreatic alpha-cells. (2010) Nature 464: 1132-3 (Added 2012-01-26 08:56:56.227228)
19556507 Wandzioch E, Zaret KS Dynamic signaling network for the specification of embryonic pancreas and liver progenitors. (2009) Science 324: 1707-10 (Added 2009-12-08 15:39:55.282499)
19522011 Gadue P, Gouon-Evans V, Cheng X, Wandzioch E, Zaret KS, Grompe M, Streeter PR, Keller GM Generation of monoclonal antibodies specific for cell surface molecules expressed on early mouse endoderm. (2009) Stem Cells 27: 2103-13 (Added 2012-03-09 17:04:25.001995)
19427285 Zaret KS Using small molecules to great effect in stem cell differentiation. (2009) Cell Stem Cell 4: 373-4 (Added 2012-01-26 08:57:12.080465)
19056973 Zaret KS, Grompe M Generation and regeneration of cells of the liver and pancreas. (2008) Science 322: 1490-4 (Added 2009-12-08 15:40:29.241872)
18398419 Zaret KS Genetic programming of liver and pancreas progenitors: lessons for stem-cell differentiation. (2008) Nat Rev Genet 9: 329-40 (Added 2009-12-08 15:41:32.094141)
18300424 Freedman DA, Kashima Y, Zaret KS Endothelial cell promotion of early liver and pancreas development. (2007) Novartis Found Symp 283: 207-16; discussion 216-9, 238-41 (Added 2009-12-08 15:41:32.097132)
17403901 Wiebe PO, Kormish JD, Roper VT, Fujitani Y, Alston NI, Zaret KS, Wright CV, Stein RW, Gannon M Ptf1a binds to and activates area III, a highly conserved region of the Pdx1 promoter that mediates early pancreas-wide Pdx1 expression. (2007) Mol Cell Biol 27: 4093-104 (Added 2009-12-08 15:43:29.605894)