The Kopinke Lab

Research Overview

In the Kopinke lab, we study adult stem cells and their crucial role in repairing damaged tissues. We specifically focus on mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs); connective tissue fibroblasts that build and maintain the extracellular matrix and are crucial during the repair of damaged tissues by secreting beneficial factors. With age and disease, MSCs become the cellular origin of fibrotic scar and fat tissue that gradually replaces healthy tissue. This process is called fatty fibrosis, and is a hallmark of sarcopenia, diabetes, obesity, chronic heart conditions and most neuromuscular diseases such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. However, the signal(s) that control the multiple functions of MSCs remain largely unknown. We recently discovered that MSCs are the main ciliated cell type in multiple adult tissues. Primary cilia are microtubule-based membrane protrusions that have evolved to act as cellular antennae that receive and interpret extracellular cues such as Hedgehog signaling. Excitingly, our research points to cilia as a key structure through which the fate and function of MSCs is being controlled. We are now building on this work by investigating how cilia influence tissue healing and whether the ciliary mechanism governing fatty fibrosis formation are shared across tissues. We have created novel tools and approaches, including innovative mouse models and a fatty fibrosis cell culture model, which allow us to manipulate and study cilia and ciliary signaling during fatty fibrosis initiation and progression. The long-term research goal of the Kopinke lab is to elucidate how primary cilia coordinate adult tissue repair and regeneration. More specifically, our future research program will investigate how ciliary signaling coordinates cellular communication between stem cells and their niche, on understanding how cilia-based communication goes awry in disease and on identifying novel pharmacological tools to combat cilia-controlled diseases such as fatty fibrosis.

What we are doing in our lab

Research Focus Areas

• Stem Cells
• Regenerative Medicine
• Cellular Communication
• Tissue Repair
• Genetics
• Muscular Dystrophy
• Skeletal Muscle Regeneration
• Muscle Therapeutics

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what you would learn in our lab

Research Tools & Skills

• Innovative genetic mouse models
• Pharmacological approaches
• Complex tissue culture systems
• High-resolution microscopy

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Current & up to date publications

Recent Publications

Check out the recent publications from the Primary Investigator (PI), Dr. Daniel Kopinke.

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