A/Prof Louise Purton

Research Unit

Stem cell regulation


Associate Director, SVI
Head, Stem Cell Regulation Laboratory
Associate Professor, Dept of Medicine SVH, The University of Melbourne


Professional Experience

1990         BSc (Hons) The University of Melbourne, Australia
1995         PhD, The University of Melbourne, Australia
1995-00    Post-doctoral researcher, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
2000-04    Senior Research Officer, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne
2004-05    Associate, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne
2004-07    Visiting scientist, Massachusetts General Hospital Center, Boston, USA
2004-07    Assistant in Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA
2004-07    Instructor, Department of Medicine, Harvard University, Boston, USA


1993-94      Postgraduate Bursary, The British Council
1999-02      Special Fellowship, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America
2008           NHMRC Career Development Award, Level 2
2009           Member, Faculty 1000, Non-hematopoietic stem cells section
2010-13      Director, ISEH Society for Hematology and Stem Cells
2011-15      NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship

Research Interests

The research in my lab primarily focuses on processes involved in blood cell production (haematopoiesis). All blood cells are formed from haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which are capable of either self-renewing (to make more HSCs) or differentiating into mature blood cell types- each HSC makes hundreds of thousands of blood cells. HSCs are finely regulated, and problems in the regulation of HSCs can lead to haematopoietic diseases (such as leukaemia) or blood cell exhaustion. Research in my laboratory is focused on understanding how HSCs are regulated, and determining the roles of the bone marrow microenvironment (where blood cells are made) in regulating haemopoietic diseases, including leukaemia. Of major interest are the roles of the receptors for vitamin A (retinoic acid receptors, RARs) in these processes. Our approaches include the use of different mouse knockout models, stem and progenitor cell assays including bone marrow transplantation studies and ex vivo culture methods, mCT analysis of bone marrow microenvironment cells, gene transduction, FACS-based methods for sorting and analysis, analysis of gene expression by quantitative real-time PCR and microarrays.

Selected Publications

  1. Quach JM, Askymr M, Jovic T, Baker EK, Walsh NC, Harrison SJ, Neeson P, Ritchie D, Ebeling PR, Purton LE. Myelosuppressive therapies significantly increase pro-inflammatory cytokines and directly cause bone loss. JBMR 2015 30:886-897.
  2. Smeets MF, DeLuca E, Wall M, Quach JM, Chalk AM, Deans AJ, Heierhorst J, Purton LE, Izon DJ, Walkley CR. The Rothmund-Thomson Syndrome helicase Recql4 is essential for hematopoiesis. J Clin Invest 2014 124:3551-3565
  3. Guo S, Lu J, Schlanger R, Zhang H, Wang J, Fox M, Purton LE, Fleming H, Cobb B, Merkenschlager M, Golub T, Scadden DT. microRNA-125a controls hematopoietic stem cell number. PNAS 2010, 107:14229-14234.
  4. Askmyr M, Sims NA, Martin TJ, Purton LE. What is the true nature of the osteoblastic hematopoietic stem cell niche? (Invited Review) Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2009; 20:303-309.
  5. Wu JY*, Purton LE*, Rodda S, Chen M, Weinstein LS, McMahon AP, Scadden DT, Kronenberg HM. Osteoblastic regulation of B lymphopoiesis is mediated by Gsα-dependent signaling pathways. PNAS 2008; 105:16976-16981. *Wu and Purton are equal first authors.
  6. Purton LE, Scadden DT. Limiting factors in murine hematopoietic stem cell assays. Cell Stem Cell 2007, 1:263-270.
  7. Walkley CR, Olsen GH, Dworkin S, Fabb SA, Swann J, McArthur GA, Westmoreland SV, Chambon P, Scadden DT, Purton LE. A microenvironment-induced myeloproliferative syndrome caused by retinoic acid receptor γ deficiency. Cell 2007, 129:1097-1110. See Related Commentary (and other commentaries for this paper given below publication #6): Lowsky, R. Sowing Seeds of Discontent. The Hematologist: ASH News and Reports 2007 November-December Vol 4, Issue 6; 1.
  8. Walkley CR, Shea JM, Sims NA, Purton LE, Orkin SH. Rb regulates interactions between hematopoietic stem cells and their bone marrow microenvironment. Cell 2007, 129:1081-1095. See Related Commentaries (for both Cell papers): Perry, JM & L Li. Disrupting the Stem Cell Niche: Good Seeds in Bad Soil. Cell 2007 June 15; 129: 1045-1047. McCarthy, N. A disturbed background. Nature Reviews Cancer. Research Highlights; Microenvironment, August; 7:566.
  9. Purton LE, Dworkin S, Olsen GH, Walkley CR, Fabb SA, Collins SJ, Chambon P. RARγ is critical for maintaining a balance between hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. J Exp Med 2006; 203:1283-1293.
  10. Walkley CR, Fero ML, Chien W-M, Purton LE*, McArthur GA*. Negative cell-cycle regulators cooperatively control self-renewal and differentiation of haematopoietic stem cells. Nat Cell Biol 2005; 7:172-178. *Purton and McArthur are equal senior authors.
  11. Purton LE, Bernstein ID, Collins SJ. All-trans retinoic acid enhances the maintenance of long-term repopulating hematopoietic stem cells. Blood 2000; 95:470-477.
  12. Purton LE, Bernstein ID, Collins SJ. All-trans retinoic acid delays the differentiation of primitive hematopoietic precursors (lin- c-kit+ Sca-1+) while enhancing the terminal maturation of committed granulocyte/monocyte progenitors. Blood 1999; 94:483-495.