• Title Director of Graduate Studies; Associate Professor of Biology; Member, Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute
  • Education PhD, Baylor College of Medicine
  • Phone 617-353-2469
  • Area of Interest Cardiac development and disease, muscle regeneration, muscular dystrophy, mouse developmental biology, gene regulation
  • CV

Current Research

Our lab focuses on gene regulatory networks in muscle development and disease. Defining these networks in differentiation and homeostasis can yield insight into the mechanisms that drive pathological gene expression in cardiac and skeletal muscle diseases. Our lab has addressed this problem by focusing on gene programs regulated by the MEF2 transcription factor family, an evolutionarily conserved and core transcription factor in muscle gene regulation. We have used a systems-level approach to reveal the complex gene regulatory mechanisms employed by the mammalian MEF2 transcription factor family for proper cardiac and skeletal muscle differentiation.

Another area of investigation relates to the role of noncoding RNAs in muscle differentiation and regeneration. Small (miRNAs) and long (lncRNAs) noncoding RNAs are now recognized as key molecular components in gene regulatory networks. We previously identified a noncoding RNA locus (Dlk1-Dio3) involved in skeletal muscle differentiation and regeneration, and in cardiomyocyte proliferation. Recently, we have shown that Meg3, a lncRNA in the Dlk1-Dio3 locus, regulates myoblast plasticity and muscle regeneration through epithelial mesenchymal transition. We continue to investigate the multi-functional gene regulatory role of this noncoding RNA locus in cardiac and skeletal muscle homeostasis and disease.

Selected Publications

  • Dill TL, Carroll A, Pinheiro A, Gao J, Naya FJ (2021) The long noncoding RNA Meg3 regulates myoblast plasticity and muscle regeneration through epithelial mesenchymal transition. Development. 148(2):dev194027. doi: 10.1242/dev.194027. PMID: 33298462.
  • ¬†Pinheiro A and Naya FJ (2021) The Key lnc(RNA)s in Cardiac and Skeletal Muscle Development, Regeneration, and Disease. J Cardiovasc Dev Dis.
  • Dill TL, Naya FJ (2018) A Hearty Dose of Noncoding RNAs: The Imprinted DLK1-DIO3 Locus in Cardiac Development and Disease. J Cardiovasc Dev Dis. 5(3). pii: E37. doi: 10.3390/jcdd5030037.
  • Medrano JL, Naya FJ (2017) The transcription factor MEF2A fine-tunes gene expression in the atrial and ventricular chambers of the adult heart. J Biol Chem. 292(51): 20975-20988.
  • Desjardins CA, Naya FJ (2017) Antagonistic regulation of cell cycle and differentiation gene programs in neonatal cardiomyocytes by homologous MEF2 transcription factors. J Biol Chem. 292(25): 10613-10629.
  • Clark AL, Maruyama S, Sano S, Accorsi A, Girgenrath M, Walsh K, and Naya FJ (2016) miR-410 and miR-495 are dynamically regulated in diverse cardiomyopathies and their inhibition attenuates pathological hypertrophy. PLoS One. 11(3):e0151515.
  • Clark AL, Naya FJ (2015) MicroRNAs in the Myocyte Enhancer Factor 2 (MEF2)-regulated Gtl2-Dio3 Noncoding RNA Locus Promote Cardiomyocyte Proliferation by Targeting the Transcriptional Coactivator Cited2. J Biol Chem. 290(38): 23162-72.
  • Estrella NL, Desjardins CA, Nocco SE, Clark AL, Maksimenko Y, and Naya FJ (2015) MEF2 transcription factors regulate distinct gene programs in mammalian skeletal muscle differentiation. J Biol Chem. 290(2): 1256-68.

Courses Taught:

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

View all profiles