Olson Lab studies muscle cells as a model for understanding how stem cells adopt specific fates and how programs of cell differentiation and morphogenesis are controlled during development.
There are three major muscle cell types—cardiac, skeletal, and smooth—which express distinct sets of genes controlled by different combinations of transcription factors and extracellular signals. We have focused on discovering novel transcription factors in these muscle-cell types that control development and remodeling in response to cardiovascular and neuromuscular diseases.
We have also explored the roles of microRNAs and long non-coding RNAs in controlling muscle development and disease.
Our long-term goals are to delineate the complete genetic pathways for the formation and function of each type of muscle cell, and to use this information to devise pharmacologic and genetic therapies for inherited and acquired muscle diseases in humans.