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Charles P Emerson Jr. PhD

TitleProfessor
InstitutionUniversity of Massachusetts Medical School
DepartmentNeurology
AddressWellstone Program
55 Lake Avenue North, S5-147
Worcester MA 01655
Phone774-455-1571
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    Other Positions
    InstitutionUMMS - School of Medicine
    DepartmentNeurology

    InstitutionUMMS - School of Medicine
    DepartmentNeuroNexus Institute

    InstitutionUMMS - Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
    DepartmentCell Biology

    InstitutionUMMS - Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
    DepartmentNeuroscience


    Collapse Biography 
    Collapse education and training
    Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, United StatesBABiology-Biochemistry
    University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, United StatesPHDBiology

    Collapse Overview 
    Collapse overview

    Academic Background

    Dr. Emerson received his undergraduate education at Princeton University in Biology/Biochemistry, and his graduate training at MIT and the University of California, San Diego in Cell and Molecular Biology. He then pursued postdoctoral research as an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Virginia, where he initiated his career-long studies of skeletal myogenesis. He received his first faculty appointment in the Department of Biology at the University of Virginia and advanced to become Commonwealth Professor of Biology. His subsequent faculty appointments include: Senior Scientist at Fox Chase Cancer Center, the Joseph Leidy Professor and Chair of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Director and Senior Scientist at the Boston Biomedical Research Institute, as well as visiting scientist at the Carnegie Institution Department of Embryology and the Pasteur Institute. Dr. Emerson joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 2013 as Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology and Neurology and as Director of the Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Program. At UMMS, he has continued his investigations of skeletal muscle development, focusing on human muscle biology and muscular dystrophies. His research has been generously supported by NIH, including Career Development and Merit Awards and directorship of an NIH Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Center, and by foundations supporting cancer and muscular dystrophy research. Throughout his career, he has had many valued and productive research collaborations, he has lead NIH graduate and postdoctoral training programs in cell and developmental biology, and he has been the proud mentor to a cadre of talented graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

    Emerson Lab Research Program

    Skeletal muscle development, regeneration and disease

    Skeletal muscle is the most abundant tissue in the human body, responsible for all voluntary motor activity to enable our amazingly complex behaviors and adaptive functions- every smile, breath, and step. The Emerson Lab utilizes genome, molecular and stem cell technologies to understand how muscles develop in embryos and how injured muscles repair and regenerate in adults, with the goal of understanding molecular pathologies of human genetic muscular dystrophies and the development of therapeutics. Our lab is highly collaborative with academic and industry scientists, clinicians and patient advocates though the UMMS Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Center, with the support of NIH and foundations dedicated to the treatment of muscular dystrophies.


    Current Research

    iPSC modeling of human skeletal myogenesis and muscular dystrophy.

    Dr. Emerson’s research historically has utilized molecular, embryological and genetic approaches to investigate transcriptional and signaling regulation of skeletal muscle development in animal models including birds, Drosophia and mouse as well as cell culture myoblast models. Recently the Emerson lab has focused its research on human muscle biology, utilizing iPSC reprogramming and differentiation technologies to investigate the earliest epigenetic and molecular regulatory mechanisms that regulate commitment of pluripotent human cells to form muscle stem cell lineages, processes not readily accessible to investigation in embryos. These iPSC modelling studies have been made possible through collaboration with Genea Biocells, who are developing gene-free methods for step-wise chemical and growth factor induction of skeletal muscle stem cells from human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and in the Emerson Lab, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), based on knowledge of signaling pathways operative during muscle development in the vertebrate embryo. These innovative ESC and iPSC skeletal muscle technologies have uniquely enabled the Emerson lab to investigate genetic and epigenetic regulatory mechanisms controlling the earliest stages of human skeletal muscle development as well as the molecular pathologies of human genetic muscular dystrophies, including facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) and limb girdle muscular dystrophies (LGMD) including LGMD2i and LGMD2g and develop small molecule and RNA therapeutics, and CRISPR gene correction and stem cell therapies to treat patients with these diseases.

    Ongoing research projects in the Emerson lab:

    • Identification of early developmental master regulatory genes controlling muscle stem cell lineage specification using CRISPR gene expression and editing technologies and small molecule developmental pathway activators and inhibitors, in collaboration with Scot Wolfe at UMMS and Genea Biocells;

    • Identification of iPSC muscle stem cell lineages to promote efficient skeletal muscle regeneration through development of muscle xenoengraftment technologies;

    • Modeling the role of innate immunity in FSHD muscle pathology, using combined muscle and blood xenografting technologies in immune deficient mice, in collaboration with Michael Brehm at UMMS;

    • Investigations of FSHD clinical disease severity through iPSC modeling of the molecular pathologies of iPSC muscle reprogrammed from FSHD patients with mild adult-onset disease and profound infantile-onset disease;

    • Development of RNA and small molecule therapeutics for FSHD, in collaboration with Jon Watts and Anastasia Khvorova at UMMS and Genea Biocells.

    • Development of CRISPR gene correction therapeutics for LGMD2i and LGMD2g in collaboration with Scot Wolfe at UMMS.




    Collapse Bibliographic 
    Collapse selected publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
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    1. Iyer S, Suresh S, Guo D, Daman K, Chen JCJ, Liu P, Zieger M, Luk K, Roscoe BP, Mueller C, King OD, Emerson CP, Wolfe SA. Precise therapeutic gene correction by a simple nuclease-induced double-stranded break. Nature. 2019 Apr 03. PMID: 30944467.
      View in: PubMed
    2. DeSimone AM, Pakula A, Lek A, Emerson CP. Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy. Compr Physiol. 2017 Sep 12; 7(4):1229-1279. PMID: 28915324.
      View in: PubMed
    3. Mou H, Smith JL, Peng L, Yin H, Moore J, Zhang XO, Song CQ, Sheel A, Wu Q, Ozata DM, Li Y, Anderson DG, Emerson CP, Sontheimer EJ, Moore MJ, Weng Z, Xue W. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing induces exon skipping by alternative splicing or exon deletion. Genome Biol. 2017 Jun 14; 18(1):108. PMID: 28615073.
      View in: PubMed
    4. Chen JC, King OD, Zhang Y, Clayton NP, Spencer C, Wentworth BM, Emerson CP, Wagner KR. Morpholino-mediated Knockdown of DUX4 Toward Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy Therapeutics. Mol Ther. 2016 Aug; 24(8):1405-11. PMID: 27378237.
      View in: PubMed
    5. Stockdale FE, Sanger JW, Emerson CP. Howard Holtzer -- developmental and cell biologist 1922-2014. Dev Biol. 2015 May 15; 401(2):185-7. PMID: 26146752.
      View in: PubMed
    6. Jones TI, King OD, Himeda CL, Homma S, Chen JC, Beermann ML, Yan C, Emerson CP, Miller JB, Wagner KR, Jones PL. Individual epigenetic status of the pathogenic D4Z4 macrosatellite correlates with disease in facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. Clin Epigenetics. 2015; 7:37. PMID: 25904990.
      View in: PubMed
    7. Zhang Y, King OD, Rahimov F, Jones TI, Ward CW, Kerr JP, Liu N, Emerson CP, Kunkel LM, Partridge TA, Wagner KR. Human skeletal muscle xenograft as a new preclinical model for muscle disorders. Hum Mol Genet. 2014 Jun 15; 23(12):3180-8. PMID: 24452336.
      View in: PubMed
    8. Pettigrew CA, Asp E, Emerson CP. A new role for Hedgehogs in juxtacrine signaling. Mech Dev. 2014 Feb; 131:137-49. PMID: 24342078.
      View in: PubMed
    9. Himeda CL, Barro MV, Emerson CP. Pax3 synergizes with Gli2 and Zic1 in transactivating the Myf5 epaxial somite enhancer. Dev Biol. 2013 Nov 01; 383(1):7-14. PMID: 24036067.
      View in: PubMed
    10. Rahimov F, King OD, Leung DG, Bibat GM, Emerson CP, Kunkel LM, Wagner KR. Transcriptional profiling in facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy to identify candidate biomarkers. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Oct 2; 109(40):16234-9. PMID: 22988124.
      View in: PubMed
    11. Jones TI, Chen JC, Rahimov F, Homma S, Arashiro P, Beermann ML, King OD, Miller JB, Kunkel LM, Emerson CP, Wagner KR, Jones PL. Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy family studies of DUX4 expression: evidence for disease modifiers and a quantitative model of pathogenesis. Hum Mol Genet. 2012 Oct 15; 21(20):4419-30. PMID: 22798623.
      View in: PubMed
    12. Homma S, Chen JC, Rahimov F, Beermann ML, Hanger K, Bibat GM, Wagner KR, Kunkel LM, Emerson CP, Miller JB. A unique library of myogenic cells from facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy subjects and unaffected relatives: family, disease and cell function. Eur J Hum Genet. 2012 Apr; 20(4):404-10. PMID: 22108603.
      View in: PubMed
    13. Stadler G, Chen JC, Wagner K, Robin JD, Shay JW, Emerson CP, Wright WE. Establishment of clonal myogenic cell lines from severely affected dystrophic muscles - CDK4 maintains the myogenic population. Skelet Muscle. 2011; 1(1):12. PMID: 21798090.
      View in: PubMed
    14. Rahimov F, King OD, Warsing LC, Powell RE, Emerson CP, Kunkel LM, Wagner KR. Gene expression profiling of skeletal muscles treated with a soluble activin type IIB receptor. Physiol Genomics. 2011 Apr 27; 43(8):398-407. PMID: 21266502.
      View in: PubMed
    15. Langsdorf A, Do AT, Kusche-Gullberg M, Emerson CP, Ai X. Sulfs are regulators of growth factor signaling for satellite cell differentiation and muscle regeneration. Dev Biol. 2007 Nov 15; 311(2):464-77. PMID: 17920055.
      View in: PubMed
    16. Ai X, Kitazawa T, Do AT, Kusche-Gullberg M, Labosky PA, Emerson CP. SULF1 and SULF2 regulate heparan sulfate-mediated GDNF signaling for esophageal innervation. Development. 2007 Sep; 134(18):3327-38. PMID: 17720696.
      View in: PubMed
    17. Riobo NA, Lu K, Emerson CP. Hedgehog signal transduction: signal integration and cross talk in development and cancer. Cell Cycle. 2006 Aug; 5(15):1612-5. PMID: 16880744.
      View in: PubMed
    18. Riobó NA, Lu K, Ai X, Haines GM, Emerson CP. Phosphoinositide 3-kinase and Akt are essential for Sonic Hedgehog signaling. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Mar 21; 103(12):4505-10. PMID: 16537363.
      View in: PubMed
    19. Riobo NA, Haines GM, Emerson CP. Protein kinase C-delta and mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase-1 control GLI activation in hedgehog signaling. Cancer Res. 2006 Jan 15; 66(2):839-45. PMID: 16424016.
      View in: PubMed
    20. Ai X, Do AT, Kusche-Gullberg M, Lindahl U, Lu K, Emerson CP. Substrate specificity and domain functions of extracellular heparan sulfate 6-O-endosulfatases, QSulf1 and QSulf2. J Biol Chem. 2006 Feb 24; 281(8):4969-76. PMID: 16377625.
      View in: PubMed
    21. McDermott A, Gustafsson M, Elsam T, Hui CC, Emerson CP, Borycki AG. Gli2 and Gli3 have redundant and context-dependent function in skeletal muscle formation. Development. 2005 Jan; 132(2):345-57. PMID: 15604102.
      View in: PubMed
    22. Braquart-Varnier C, Danesin C, Clouscard-Martinato C, Agius E, Escalas N, Benazeraf B, Ai X, Emerson C, Cochard P, Soula C. A subtractive approach to characterize genes with regionalized expression in the gliogenic ventral neuroepithelium: identification of chick sulfatase 1 as a new oligodendrocyte lineage gene. Mol Cell Neurosci. 2004 Apr; 25(4):612-28. PMID: 15080891.
      View in: PubMed
    23. Wang S, Ai X, Freeman SD, Pownall ME, Lu Q, Kessler DS, Emerson CP. QSulf1, a heparan sulfate 6-O-endosulfatase, inhibits fibroblast growth factor signaling in mesoderm induction and angiogenesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Apr 6; 101(14):4833-8. PMID: 15051888.
      View in: PubMed
    24. Miller JB, Emerson CP. Does the road to muscle rejuvenation go through Notch? Sci Aging Knowledge Environ. 2003 Dec 3; 2003(48):pe34. PMID: 14657508.
      View in: PubMed
    25. Polyák E, Standiford DM, Yakopson V, Emerson CP, Franzini-Armstrong C. Contribution of myosin rod protein to the structural organization of adult and embryonic muscles in Drosophila. J Mol Biol. 2003 Aug 29; 331(5):1077-91. PMID: 12927543.
      View in: PubMed
    26. Ai X, Do AT, Lozynska O, Kusche-Gullberg M, Lindahl U, Emerson CP. QSulf1 remodels the 6-O sulfation states of cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans to promote Wnt signaling. J Cell Biol. 2003 Jul 21; 162(2):341-51. PMID: 12860968.
      View in: PubMed
    27. La Rocca SA, Vannucchi S, Pompili M, Pinney DF, Emerson CP, Grossi M, Tatò F. Selective repression of myoD transcription by v-Myc prevents terminal differentiation of quail embryo myoblasts transformed by the MC29 strain of avian myelocytomatosis virus. Oncogene. 2002 Jul 18; 21(31):4838-42. PMID: 12101422.
      View in: PubMed
    28. Gustafsson MK, Pan H, Pinney DF, Liu Y, Lewandowski A, Epstein DJ, Emerson CP. Myf5 is a direct target of long-range Shh signaling and Gli regulation for muscle specification. Genes Dev. 2002 Jan 1; 16(1):114-26. PMID: 11782449.
      View in: PubMed
    29. Dhoot GK, Gustafsson MK, Ai X, Sun W, Standiford DM, Emerson CP. Regulation of Wnt signaling and embryo patterning by an extracellular sulfatase. Science. 2001 Aug 31; 293(5535):1663-6. PMID: 11533491.
      View in: PubMed
    30. Standiford DM, Sun WT, Davis MB, Emerson CP. Positive and negative intronic regulatory elements control muscle-specific alternative exon splicing of Drosophila myosin heavy chain transcripts. Genetics. 2001 Jan; 157(1):259-71. PMID: 11139507.
      View in: PubMed
    31. Borycki AG, Emerson CP. Multiple tissue interactions and signal transduction pathways control somite myogenesis. Curr Top Dev Biol. 2000; 48:165-224. PMID: 10635460.
      View in: PubMed
    32. Borycki AG, Brunk B, Tajbakhsh S, Buckingham M, Chiang C, Emerson CP. Sonic hedgehog controls epaxial muscle determination through Myf5 activation. Development. 1999 Sep; 126(18):4053-63. PMID: 10457014.
      View in: PubMed
    33. Bucher EA, Dhoot GK, Emerson MM, Ober M, Emerson CP. Structure and evolution of the alternatively spliced fast troponin T isoform gene. J Biol Chem. 1999 Jun 18; 274(25):17661-70. PMID: 10364205.
      View in: PubMed
    34. Borycki AG, Li J, Jin F, Emerson CP, Epstein JA. Pax3 functions in cell survival and in pax7 regulation. Development. 1999 Apr; 126(8):1665-74. PMID: 10079229.
      View in: PubMed
    35. Davis MB, Dietz J, Standiford DM, Emerson CP. Transposable element insertions respecify alternative exon splicing in three Drosophila myosin heavy chain mutants. Genetics. 1998 Nov; 150(3):1105-14. PMID: 9799262.
      View in: PubMed
    36. Borycki AG, Mendham L, Emerson CP. Control of somite patterning by Sonic hedgehog and its downstream signal response genes. Development. 1998 Feb; 125(4):777-90. PMID: 9435297.
      View in: PubMed
    37. Standiford DM, Davis MB, Sun W, Emerson CP. Splice-junction elements and intronic sequences regulate alternative splicing of the Drosophila myosin heavy chain gene transcript. Genetics. 1997 Oct; 147(2):725-41. PMID: 9335608.
      View in: PubMed
    38. Borycki AG, Emerson CP. Muscle determination: another key player in myogenesis? Curr Biol. 1997 Oct 1; 7(10):R620-3. PMID: 9368741.
      View in: PubMed
    39. Borycki AG, Strunk KE, Savary R, Emerson CP. Distinct signal/response mechanisms regulate pax1 and QmyoD activation in sclerotomal and myotomal lineages of quail somites. Dev Biol. 1997 May 15; 185(2):185-200. PMID: 9187082.
      View in: PubMed
    40. Standiford DM, Davis MB, Miedema K, Franzini-Armstrong C, Emerson CP. Myosin rod protein: a novel thick filament component of Drosophila muscle. J Mol Biol. 1997 Jan 10; 265(1):40-55. PMID: 8995523.
      View in: PubMed
    41. Pownall ME, Strunk KE, Emerson CP. Notochord signals control the transcriptional cascade of myogenic bHLH genes in somites of quail embryos. Development. 1996 May; 122(5):1475-88. PMID: 8625835.
      View in: PubMed
    42. Pinney DF, de la Brousse FC, Faerman A, Shani M, Maruyama K, Emerson CP. Quail myoD is regulated by a complex array of cis-acting control sequences. Dev Biol. 1995 Jul; 170(1):21-38. PMID: 7601311.
      View in: PubMed
    43. Goldhamer DJ, Brunk BP, Faerman A, King A, Shani M, Emerson CP. Embryonic activation of the myoD gene is regulated by a highly conserved distal control element. Development. 1995 Mar; 121(3):637-49. PMID: 7720572.
      View in: PubMed
    44. Emerson CP. Embryonic signals for skeletal myogenesis: arriving at the beginning. Curr Opin Cell Biol. 1993 Dec; 5(6):1057-64. PMID: 8129944.
      View in: PubMed
    45. Litvin J, Montgomery MO, Goldhamer DJ, Emerson CP, Bader DM. Identification of DNA-binding protein(s) in the developing heart. Dev Biol. 1993 Apr; 156(2):409-17. PMID: 8462740.
      View in: PubMed
    46. Pownall ME, Emerson CP. Sequential activation of three myogenic regulatory genes during somite morphogenesis in quail embryos. Dev Biol. 1992 May; 151(1):67-79. PMID: 1315698.
      View in: PubMed
    47. Goldhamer DJ, Faerman A, Shani M, Emerson CP. Regulatory elements that control the lineage-specific expression of myoD. Science. 1992 Apr 24; 256(5056):538-42. PMID: 1315077.
      View in: PubMed
    48. Hastings GA, Emerson CP. Myosin functional domains encoded by alternative exons are expressed in specific thoracic muscles of Drosophila. J Cell Biol. 1991 Jul; 114(2):263-76. PMID: 2071673.
      View in: PubMed
    49. de la Brousse FC, Emerson CP. Localized expression of a myogenic regulatory gene, qmf1, in the somite dermatome of avian embryos. Genes Dev. 1990 Apr; 4(4):567-81. PMID: 2361591.
      View in: PubMed
    50. Pinney DF, Emerson CP. 10T1/2 cells: an in vitro model for molecular genetic analysis of mesodermal determination and differentiation. Environ Health Perspect. 1989 Mar; 80:221-7. PMID: 2466641.
      View in: PubMed
    51. Bucher EA, Maisonpierre PC, Konieczny SF, Emerson CP. Expression of the troponin complex genes: transcriptional coactivation during myoblast differentiation and independent control in heart and skeletal muscles. Mol Cell Biol. 1988 Oct; 8(10):4134-42. PMID: 3185544.
      View in: PubMed
    52. Pearson-White SH, Emerson CP. A novel hybrid alpha-tropomyosin in fibroblasts is produced by alternative splicing of transcripts from the skeletal muscle alpha-tropomyosin gene. J Biol Chem. 1987 Nov 25; 262(33):15998-6010. PMID: 2445743.
      View in: PubMed
    53. Bowman LH, Emerson CP. Formation and stability of cytoplasmic mRNAs during myoblast differentiation: pulse-chase and density labeling analyses. Dev Biol. 1980 Nov; 80(1):146-66. PMID: 7439527.
      View in: PubMed
    54. Devlin RB, Emerson CP. Coordinate accumulation of contractile protein mRNAs during myoblast differentiation. Dev Biol. 1979 Mar; 69(1):202-16. PMID: 446892.
      View in: PubMed
    55. Emerson CP, Beckner SK. Activation of myosin synthesis in fusing and mononucleated myoblasts. J Mol Biol. 1975 Apr 25; 93(4):431-47. PMID: 806694.
      View in: PubMed
    56. Emerson CP, Humphreys T. Regulation of DNA-like RNA and the apparent activation of ribosomal RNA synthesis in sea urchin embryos: quantitative measurements of newly synthesized RNA. Dev Biol. 1970 Sep; 23(1):86-112. PMID: 5529761.
      View in: PubMed
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