Robin: Hematopoiesis and stem cells during embryonic development

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The Robin group studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms that lead to the production and expansion of hematopoietic stem cells during embryonic development.

Figure 1: Intra-aortic hematopoietic clusters attached to the endothelial layer of the mouse embryonic aorta (Orange: CD31)

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are self-renewing multipotent cells that produce all blood cell types during the entire life of an individual. Hence, they are the only cell type that can be used to replenish the bone marrow in patients with blood-related disorders. One major challenge in the field of stem cell research is to generate large quantities of these very rare cells in vitro for research and clinical use. This is extremely difficult at present because all steps leading to HSC generation in vivo, and the precise role of the supportive surrounding microenvironment, are far from been elucidated yet. The overall research goal of the lab is to elucidate the cellular and molecular events leading to HSC production and expansion during embryonic development. We notably focus on understanding the origin of HSCs during embryonic development, the mechanisms implicated in HSC generation and expansion, the composition and function of the different HSC niches during ontogeny, and the cellular and molecular signature of HSCs and precursors.

Key publications

Progressive maturation toward hematopoietic stem cells in the mouse embryo aorta

Boisset JC, Clapes T, Klaus A, Papazian N, Onderwater J, Mommaas-Kienhuis M, Cupedo T, Robin C.

Blood 125, 465-469


The microtubule Plus-end tracking protein CLASP2 is required for hematopoiesis and hematopoietic stem cell maintenance

Drabek K, Gutiérrez L, Vermeij M, Clapes T, Patel SR, Boisset JC, van Haren J, Pereira AL, Liu Z, Akinci U, Nikolic T, van Ijcken W, van den Hout M, Meinders M, Melo C, Sambade C, Drabek D, Hendriks RW, Philipsen S, Mommaas M, Grosveld F, Maiato H, Italiano JE Jr, Robin C, Galjart N.

Cell Rep 2, 781-788


Ex vivo time-lapse confocal imaging of the mouse embryo aorta

Boisset JC, Andrieu-Soler C, van Cappellen W, Clapes T, Robin C.

Nature Protocols 6, 1792-1805


In vivo imaging of haematopoietic cells emerging from the mouse aortic endothelium

Boisset JC, van Cappellen W, Andrieu-Soler C, Galjart N, Dzierzak E, Robin C.

Nature 464, 116-120


Human placenta is a potent hematopoietic niche containing hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells throughout development

Robin C, Bollerot K, Mendes S, Haak E, Crisan M, Cerisoli F, Lauw I, Kaimakis P, Jorna R, Vermeulen M, Kayser M, van der Linden R, Imanirad P, Verstegen M, Nawaz-Yousaf H, Papazian N, Steegers E, Cupedo T, Dzierzak E.

Cell Stem Cell 5, 385-395


An unexpected role for IL-3 in the embryonic development of hematopoietic stem cells

Robin C, Ottersbach K, Durand C, Peeters M, Vanes L, Tybulewicz V, Dzierzak E.

Dev Cell 11, 171-180


Hematopoietic stem cells localize to the endothelial cell layer in the midgestation mouse aorta

de Bruijn MF*, Ma X*, Robin C*, Ottersbach K, Sanchez MJ, Dzierzak E.

Immunity 16, 673-683


All publications

Group leader

Catherine Robin

Catherine Robin is group leader at the Hubrecht Institute and is also appointed at the University Medical Center Utrecht. Her group focuses on the establishment of the hematopoietic system during embryonic development. They are particularly interested in better understanding how the first hematopoietic stem cells, the very rare cells at the foundation of the entire adult blood system, are generated and regulated during embryonic development. To answer these fundamental questions, the Robin group uses state-of-the-art technology and methods, including time-lapse live confocal imaging, in vivo transplantation and single-cell RNA sequencing.

Scientific training and positions

Current other activities

Group members

Catherine Robin

Principal Investigator

Carla Veenboer


Joris Maas


Laurent Yvernogeau


Ismael Morin-Poulard


Anna Klaus

PhD Student

Manon Molenaar


Johnsons Sulter


2018 – EMBL conference – Hematopoietic stem cells: From the embryo to the aging organism