Ani is interested understanding the regulatory mechanisms underlying stem cell maintenance and differentiation. She is comparing these mechanisms in retinal stem cells/progenitors and recently identified neural stem cells in the adult ciliary epithelium. She has compared the global gene expression between these two populations of neural stem cells and her observations suggest that the neural stem cells in adult the ciliary epithelium may represent a stage antecedent to that defined by neural stem cells/progenitors in the embryonic retina. The analysis revealed that disparate pathways such as those mediated by c-Kit, Frizzled and Notch signaling may be involved in the maintenance of ocular neural stem cells and they may act in concert. Ani showed that c-kit signaling plays an important role in self-renewal of ciliary epithelium derived neural stem cells and that such an influence on the maintenance of neural stem cells may involve its interactions with Notch signaling.
Attesting to the hypothesis that there is an interacting regulatory network for stem cell regulation, she demonstrated a cross-talk between Wnt and Notch signaling in ocular neural stem cells for sustaining their maintenance. She has recently shown that signaling, that is initiated at cell membrane, eventually recruit chromatin-remodeling enzymes such as Brm and Brg1 to initiate transcriptional cascade necessary for promoting proliferation and maintenance of uncommitted state. In addition, her work has demonstrated that the Muller glia represent the latent stem cells population in the adult retina.