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Pierre A. Coulombe, PhD

Department Affiliations Bloomberg School of Public Health: Dept. of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, School of Medicine:Dept. of Biological Chemistry, Dept. of Dermatology,
Rank E.V. McCollum Professor and Chair of BMB at the Bloomberg School of Public Health
Office Phone 410-955-3671
Lab Phone 410-614-3734
Fax 410-955-2926
SOM Address W8041 Bloomberg School of Public Health



Staci Mazzalupo 1996 – 2002

Xiaoou Pan 2006 – 2012

David Alvarado 2007 – 2014

Research Interests

Research in the Coulombe laboratory focuses on the regulation of cell differentiation and tissue homeostasis in complex epithelia such as skin, which we study from the perspective of keratin intermediate filament genes and proteins. A major role of keratin filaments is to endow epithelial cells and tissues with the ability to withstand mechanical and other forms of stresses. Genetic mutations that affect the primary structure of individual keratin proteins compromise this role and underlie several inherited blistering diseases in which epithelial cells are rendered fragile and rupture readily upon exposure to physical stress. We study the biochemical and structural determinants of this vital role, and are pursuing novel approaches to treat keratin-based genetic diseases. A newly defined role for keratins is to bind and modulate the activity of a variety of regulators and signaling effectors, with a significant impact on homeostasis in complex epithelia. Thus we have found that keratins impact the survival, growth, and architecture of keratinocytes in skin epithelia, and that such contributions can be critically important during wound repair, in the lifelong growth cycle of hair follicles, and in the context of cancer, psoriasis, and related diseases. Also, the laboratory discovered a role for keratin proteins in the regulation of protein synthesis and epithelial cell growth, and in the regulation of inflammation and innate and acquired immunity, in skin tissue. More recently, we discovered that keratin proteins occur in the nucleus, whey they are bound the promoter of specific genes that they help regulate in the setting of chronic inflammatory skin disease and cancer, and participate in the regulation of the redox balance in skin keratinocytes. We are interested in assessing whether targeting keratin expression could be beneficial in such chronic diseases.


Research Profile