Faculty Research Labs

Willis Lab

The laboratory led by Monte S. Willis, MD, PhD, MBA investigates the role of protein quality control in the pathogenesis of heart failure and myofibrillar myopathies. This research falls under three major themes: Identifying the role of muscle-specific ubiquitin ligases (MuRF proteins) in regulating cell signaling and metabolism by regulating nuclear receptors; Determining how muscle-specific ubiquitin ligases degrade inherited mutant muscle proteins (e.g., cMyBP-C and BAG3 proteins) in the pathogenesis of heart failure and; Discovery of mechanisms and therapies for Bag3 P209L myofibrillar myopathy (MFM).

Active Research: Myocyte specific regulation of metabolism and the response to biomechanical force. NIH-NHLBI; PI: Monte S Willis. June 15, 2018 – May 31, 2020.

Key Publications

  1. Disrupted structure and aberrant function of CHIP mediates the loss of motor and cognitive function in preclinical models of SCAR16. PLOS Genetics, in press.
  2. Muscle-specific regulation of right ventricular transcriptional responses to chronic hypoxia-induced hypertrophy by the Muscle Ring Finger-1 (MuRF1) ubiquitin ligase in vivo. BMC Med Genetics, in press.
  3. Image-based methods for phase estimation, gating and temporal super-resolution of cardiac ultrasound. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng, in press.
  1. Adverse Effects of Fenofibrate in Mice Deficient in the Protein Quality Control Regulator, CHIP. J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis. 2018, 5(3), 43.
  2. The Role of Heat Shock Proteins and Co-Chaperones in Heart Failure. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2018;373(1738).
  3. Leading Mindfully and Managing Compassionately: Strategies for Meeting Today’s Challenges in Pathology Academic Medicine. International Journal of Academic Medicine. 2018 4(1): 12-20.
  4. Early Stages of the Cardiac Fuel Switch: Modeling the Transition from Physiological to Pathological Hypertrophy. J Am Heart Assoc. 2018;7(8).
  5. Cardiovascular Health in African Americans: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association (endorsed by the American College of Cardiology). Circulation. 2017;136(21):e393-e423.