Dr. Melissa Spencer’s lab focuses on gaining insight into pathogenic mechanisms that occur in the muscular dystrophies, with the goal of identifying therapeutic interventions. Much of the work has focused on questions pertaining to the immune system’s contribution to Duchenne muscular dystrophy. It is through these efforts and many years of investigation that they identified osteopontin as a modulator of inflammation and fibrosis in DMD. Osteopontin is also a regulator of cell migration and cancer cell metastases.
In 2007, Spencer co-founded the Center for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (CDMD) at UCLA, with Drs. Carrie Miceli and Stanley Nelson. The CDMD is a translational research center that supports both basic and clinical research, is funded through numerous avenues including the National Institutes of Health (NIAMS), the Department of Defense and several non-profit organizations. This Center provides a platform for the sharing of research ideas, resources and collaboration and through these activities provides a supportive training environment for students and post-doctoral scholars.
Selected Cancer-Related Publications:
Ermolova N, Kudryashova E, DiFranco M, Vergara J, Kramerova I, Spencer MJ. Pathogenity of some limb girdle muscular dystrophy mutations can result from reduced anchorage to myofibrils and altered stability of calpain 3. Hum Mol Genet. 2011 Sep 1;20(17):3331-45. Epub 2011 May 30.
Kramerova I, Kudryashova E, Wu B, Germain S, Vandenborne K, Romain N, Haller RG, Verity MA, Spencer MJ. Mitochondrial abnormalities, energy deficit and oxidative stress are features of calpain 3 deficiency in skeletal muscle. Hum Mol Genet. 2009 Sep 1;18(17):3194-205. Epub 2009 May 29.
Vetrone SA, Montecino-Rodriguez E, Kudryashova E, Kramerova I, Hoffman EP, Liu SD, Miceli MC, Spencer MJ. Osteopontin promotes fibrosis in dystrophic mouse muscle by modulating immune cell subsets and intramuscular TGF-beta. J Clin Invest. 2009 Jun;119(6):1583-94. doi: 10.1172/JCI37662. Epub 2009 May 18.
Skura CL, Fowler EG, Wetzel GT, Graves M, Spencer MJ. Albuterol increases lean body mass in ambulatory boys with Duchenne or Becker muscular dystrophy. Neurology. 2008 Jan 8;70(2):137-43. Epub 2007 Oct 17.
Kramerova I, Kudryashova E, Wu B, Spencer MJ. Regulation of the M-cadherin-beta-catenin complex by calpain 3 during terminal stages of myogenic differentiation. Mol Cell Biol. 2006 Nov;26(22):8437-47. Epub 2006 Sep 18.