Mon-li H. Chu, PhD

Contact Dr. Chu

233 South Tenth Street
Bluemle Life Sciences Building, Room 406
Philadelphia, PA 19107

(215) 503-4834

Research and Clinical Interests

Our laboratory is engaged in elucidating the structure and function of extracellular matrix proteins and their roles in pathological conditions using a combination of molecular, biochemical, and genetic approaches. The current research activities are focused on two major areas.

The first area involves type VI collagen, which is the major component of beaded microfibrils found in almost all connective tissues. Recessive and dominant mutations in the three collagen VI genes lead to two specific types of congenital muscle disorders: the severe Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy (UCMD) and the relatively mild Bethlem myopathy (BM). Patients afflicted with both disorders display muscle weakness accompanied by connective tissue abnormalities, including proximal joint contractures and distal joint hyperextensibility. Children with severe UCMD may never walk independently and they develop serious respiratory deficiencies, leading to death in the first and second decades of life. While BM follows a dominant inheritance the severe UCMD phenotype can result from either recessive or dominant mutations. Our laboratory is currently studying the molecular, biochemical and pathological mechanisms underlying type VI collagen gene mutations in BM and UCMD. The consequences of collagen VI mutations are investigated using fibroblasts from BM and UCMD patients. The pathophysiology of collagen VI mutations is investigated by analyzing gene targeted mouse models.

The second area involves fibulins, a family of extracellular matrix proteins that share a homologous carboxyl terminal globular domain preceded by tandem arrays of calcium-binding epidermal growth factor-like modules. The family members are found in a variety of tissues in association with diverse supramolecular structures, including elastic fibers, fibronectin microfibrils, basement membrane networks, and proteoglycan aggregates. Interestingly, most, if not all, fibulins are intimately associated with elastic fibers, and in particular, fibulin-4 and fibulin-5 play essential roles in elastic fiber assembly. Recent studies have associated defects in several fibulins with a range of human diseases, including cutis laxa, cancer, and both inherited and age-related forms of macular degeneration. However, the precise roles of most fibulins in normal and pathological conditions are still largely unknown. Our laboratory is studying the role of fibulins, with an emphasis on the elastic fiber organization, through analyses of gene-targeted mice deficient in one or more fibulins.


Antibody Formation; Basement Membrane; Biochemistry; Cell Biology; Chimeric Protein; Collagen; Collagen Disorder; Complementary DNA; Computer Assisted Sequence Analysis; Developmental Biology; Developmental Genetics; Elastic Fiber; Extracellular Matrix Protein; Fibulin; Fluorescence Microscopy; Fusion Gene; Gel Electrophoresis; Gene Expression; Gene Mutation; Genetic Mapping; Genetic Promoter Element; Genetic Regulatory Element; Genetic Technique; Genetics; Human Genetic Material Tag; Human Physiology; Human Subject; Human Tissue; In Situ Hybridization; Laboratory Mouse; Messenger RNA; Molecular Cloning; Northern Blotting; Nucleic Acid Sequence; Pharmacology; Polymerase Chain Reaction; Protein Isoform; Protein Sequence; Protein Structure Function; Recombinant Protein; RNA Splicing; Southern Blotting; Synthetic Peptide; Tissue Cell Culture; Transcription Factor; Transfection; Transgenic Animal; Western Blotting