Molkentin Research Lab
Our laboratory investigates a range of focus areas, all of which center on understanding the molecular mechanisms of heart and skeletal muscle disease. Toward this end we study the basic machinery that underlies cell death, with a special interest in mitochondrial-dependent mechanisms of nonapoptotic death (such as cellular necrosis). Prominent diseases of both heart and skeletal muscle are affected by cellular necrosis, so identifying the genes that control this process could have a substantial effect on our treatment of these types of diseases.
We are also interested in characterizing the intracellular signaling pathways that control cellular growth, differentiation and replication in cardiac and skeletal muscle. A better understanding of the signaling pathways that control these processes, coupled with the identification of novel genes, could suggest new treatment strategies for human diseases. Similarly, we are examining the transcriptional regulatory factors and epigenetic mechanisms that regulate cardiac and skeletal muscle differentiation, growth, death and replication, in order to suggest additional targets for treating human disease.
Our laboratory is also actively engaged in identifying novel secreted protein factors in the heart (cytokines, growth factors, chemokines) that might control disease responsiveness. We study the cardiac fibroblast and how it functions during disease to alter the extracellular matrix, which affects heart remodeling. And we are investigating the basic mechanisms of intracellular calcium handling in cardiac and skeletal muscle to further understand the paradigms of excitation-transcription coupling and excitation-signaling coupling.