Faculty Profiles

Frank Naya

Francisco J. Naya

Associate Professor of Biology
Member, Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute

PhD, Baylor College of Medicine, 1997
Areas of interest: cardiac development and disease, muscle regeneration, muscular dystrophy, mouse developmental biology, gene regulation
(617) 353-2469

Current Research

One of our areas of study focuses on dissecting the in vivo role of the myocyte enhancer factor-2 (MEF2) family of transcription factors in muscle development. The four mammalian Mef2 genes—Mef2a, Mef2b, Mef2c, and Mef2d—are co-expressed in cardiac and skeletal muscle. Loss-of-function studies in mice have revealed important yet distinct functions for the vertebrate Mef2 genes in the heart. Inactivation of the Mef2c gene results in defective cardiac morphogenesis in developing embryos. In contrast, inactivation of the Mef2a and Mef2d genes results in perinatal cardiomyopathy and altered stress-dependent cardiac remodeling, respectively. Exploring the downstream cellular pathways controlled by the various Mef2 genes will help us understand the genetic pathways in muscle development and disease.

Another area of investigation relates to the role of scaffolding proteins, i.e. proteins that bind signaling enzymes, in muscular dystrophy. Muscular dystrophy is a severe muscle degenerative disease and one form of this disease is the result of a deficiency in dystrophin. Significantly, we have identified a muscle-specific scaffolding protein, myospryn, that interacts with protein kinase A (PKA) and dystrophin. Because the signaling pathways involved in muscular dystrophy are still poorly understood, we are looking into the potential role for myospryn in this process.

Courses Taught

  • BI 213 Intensive Cell Biology
  • BI 553 Molecular Biology 2

Selected Publications

  • Estrella NL, Desjardins CA, Nocco SE, Clark AL, Maksimenko Y, Naya FJ (2014). MEF2 transcription factors regulate distinct gene programs in mammalian skeletal muscle differentiation. J Biol Chem. Nov 21. [Epub ahead of print].
  • Estrella NL, Naya FJ (2014). Transcriptional networks regulating the costamere, sarcomere, and other cytoskeletal structures in striated muscle. Cell Mol Life Sci. 71(9):1641-56.
  • Snyder CM, Rice AL, Estrella NL, Held A, Kandarian SC, Naya FJ (2013) MEF2A regulates the Gtl2-Dio3 microRNA mega-cluster to modulate Wnt signaling in skeletal muscle regeneration. Development. 140(1):31-42.
  • Ewen EP, Snyder CM, Wilson M, Desjardins D, Naya FJ (2011) The Mef2A transcription factor coordinately regulates a costamere gene program in cardiac muscle.J Biol Chem. 2011 Aug 26;286(34):29644-53.
  • Kielbasa OM, Reynolds JG, Wu CL, Snyder CM, Cho MY, Weiler H, Kandarian S, Naya
    FJ (2011) Myospryn is a calcineurin-interacting protein that negatively modulatesslow-fiber-type transformation and skeletal muscle regeneration. FASEB J. 2011 Jul;25(7):2276-86.
  • McCalmon SA, Desjardins D, Ahmad S, Davidoff K, Snyder CM, Sato K, Ohashi K, Kielbasa O, Mathew M, Ewen EP, Gavras H, Walsh K, Naya FJ (2010) Modulation of angiotensin II-mediated cardiac remodeling by the MEF2A target gene Xirp2. Circ Res. 106(5):952-60.
  • Reynolds JG, McCalmon SA, Donaghey JA, Naya FJ (2008) Deregulated PKA signaling and myospryn expression in muscular dystrophy. J Biol Chem, 283(13):8070-4.
  • Reynolds JG, McCalmon SA, Tomczyk T, Naya FJ (2007) Identification and mapping of protein kinase A binding sites in the costameric protein myospryn. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1773(6), 891-902.

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