Ju Chen Laboratory In the Department of Medicine

Research Focus

A major focus of the Chen lab is to understand mechanisms by which mutations in cytoskeletal proteins cause cardiac and skeletal myopathy. The cytoskeleton of striated muscle cells is an abundant and highly specialized structure which performs force-generating contraction.
Cytoskeletal components are classified as sarcomeric or extrasarcomeric. The extrasarcomeric network provides a link between adjacent myofibrils to the nuclear envelope and between myofibrils to the sarcolemma/t-tubule and to the extracellular matrix. The Chen lab studies a number of sarcomeric and extrasarcomeric proteins, including Z-disc proteins, intermediate filament proteins, nuclear envelope proteins, and proteins which link the sarcomere to the extracellular matrix. In this manner, the Chen lab is developing a comprehensive understanding of the complex cytoskeletal network required for optimal striated muscle function.
Another major focus of the lab is the study of signaling pathways underlying cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure. Models utilized in the Chen lab include genetically engineered mouse models and human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from human patients. Analyses are performed using physiological measurements, and a range of molecular and cell biological techniques.
Below is a list of projects that form the main focus of our research.

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