Laboratory of Muscle Stem Cells and Gene Regulation

Two  skeletal muscle stem cells ( doublets in red and magenta), associated with a muscle fiber,  during cell division

Vittorio Sartorelli, M.D.
Chief, Laboratory of Muscle Stem Cells and Gene Regulation
Phone: (301) 435-8145
Fax: (301) 480-9699

Research Interests

We study the cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating specification, differentiation, and regeneration of skeletal muscle cells. We pursue these studies by combining genomic and proteomic-based approaches complemented by bioinformatics and animal models.

Specific areas of interest include:

Colorful scientific photo.

Transcriptional Regulation of Skeletal Muscle Differentiation

Biochemical and molecular characterization of individual transcription factors, chromatin regulators, and epigenetic marks during skeletal muscle specification and development. Genetic manipulation of the individual components is obtained by whole-body and conditional gene ablation in developing embryos and adult mice.

Regulatory Circuitry in Skeletal Muscle Cells

Integration of signaling pathways and logics of transcription factors and chromatin regulators. General operating principles and gene network modeling are developed based on genome-wide experimental data.

Regeneration of Adult Skeletal Muscle

Following injury, skeletal muscle vigorously regenerates. The cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying regeneration are investigated in animals in which individual genetic components have been ablated by homologous recombination.

Metabolic Regulation of Epigenetics

Exit from quiescence of satellite cells during muscle regeneration is accompanied by changes in their metabolic state. We investigate the molecular connection between metabolism and epigenetic modification of chromatin that accompanies the transition from quiescence to proliferation and differentiation of muscle precursors.


The ultimate goal of our studies is to provide a conceptual and practical framework contributing to the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases affecting skeletal muscles.

Selected Publications

Juan AH, Wang S, Ko KD, Zare H, Tsai PF, Feng X, Vivanco KO, Ascoli AM, Gutierrez-Cruz G, Krebs J, Sidoli S, Knight AL, Pedersen RA, Garcia BA, Casellas R, Zou J, Sartorelli V. Roles of H3K27me2 and H3K27me3 Examined during Fate Specification of Embryonic StemCells. Cell Rep. 2016 Oct 25;17(5):1369-1382. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.09.087. PubMed Icon

Feng X, Juan AH, Wang HA, Ko KD, Zare H, Sartorelli V. Polycomb Ezh2 controls the fate of GABAergic neurons in the embryonic cerebellum. Development. 2016 Apr 11. pii: dev.132902. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed Icon

Dell'Orso S, Wang AH, Shih HY, Saso K, Berghella L, Gutierrez-Cruz G, Ladurner AG, O'Shea JJ, Sartorelli V, Zare H. The Histone Variant MacroH2A1.2 Is Necessary for the Activation of Muscle Enhancers and Recruitment of the Transcription Factor Pbx1. Cell Rep. 2016 Feb 9;14(5):1156-68. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2015.12.103. Epub 2016 Jan 28. PubMed Icon

Ryall JG, Cliff T, Dalton S, Sartorelli V. Metabolic Reprogramming of Stem Cell Epigenetics. Cell Stem Cell. 2015 Dec 3;17(6):651-62. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2015.11.012. PubMed Icon

Ryall JG, Dell'Orso S, Derfoul A, Juan A, Zare H, Feng X, Clermont D, Koulnis M, Gutierrez-Cruz G, Fulco M, Sartorelli V. The NAD(+)-Dependent SIRT1 Deacetylase Translates a Metabolic Switch into Regulatory Epigenetics in Skeletal Muscle Stem Cells.Cell Stem Cell. 2015 Feb 5;16(2):171-83. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2014.12.004. Epub 2015 Jan 15. PubMed Icon

Mousavi K, Zare H, Dell'orso S, Grontved L, Gutierrez-Cruz G, Derfoul A, Hager GL, Sartorelli V. eRNAs Promote Transcription by Establishing Chromatin Accessibility at Defined Genomic Loci. Mol Cell. 2013 Aug 27. pii: S1097-2765(13)00548-0. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2013.07.022. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed Icon

Proserpio V, Fittipaldi R, Ryall JG, Sartorelli V, Caretti G. The methyltransferase SMYD3 mediates the recruitment of transcriptional cofactors at the myostatin and c-Met genes and regulates skeletal muscle atrophy. Genes Dev. 2013 Jun 1;27(11):1299-312. doi: 10.1101/gad.217240.113. PubMed Icon

Wang AH, Zare H, Mousavi K, Wang C, Moravec CE, Sirotkin HI, Ge K, Gutierrez-Cruz G, Sartorelli V. The histone chaperone Spt6 coordinates histone H3K27 demethylation and myogenesis.EMBO J.2013 Mar 15. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2013.54 PubMed Icon

Mousavi K, Zare H, Wang AH, Sartorelli V. Polycomb Protein Ezh1 Promotes RNA Polymerase II Elongation. Mol Cell. 2011 Dec 20. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed Icon

See extended list of publications


Updated April 30, 2015