human pluripotent stem cells, skeletal muscle, stem cell niche, regeneration, self-renewal, transplantation, single cell biology, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
My lab seeks to improve skeletal muscle regeneration using human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs). My current research addresses fundamental questions in muscle biology including how muscle stem cells interact with myofibers to build niches in vivo, whether stem cell niches regulate the transition from progenitor to stem cell, how cell competition regulates interactions with the niche, and how diseased microenvironments influence stem cell self-renewal. The work will have broad applicability to multiple muscle wasting diseases and regenerative therapies.
I have been the recipient of a number of awards during my graduate and postdoctoral training including the Sydney Finegold award in 2020, a new investigator award from the Lymn Foundation in 2019, the UCLA Boyer/Parvin award in 2018 for excellence in postdoctoral research, and an award from the Company of Biologist in 2017 to initiate an international collaboration with Niels Geijsen at the Hubrecht Institute. I have received fellowships during my postdoctoral training including through Cure Duchenne, a NIH-U54 Wellstone, a NIH-T32, and Broad Stem Cell Research Center to carry out my postdoctoral research. I am currently funded by the Muscular Dystrophy Association as P.I.
My postdoctoral training in Dr. April Pyle’s lab involved extensive interactions with the Eli and Edythe Broad Stem Cell Research Center and the Center for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at UCLA. My postdoc work was the first to characterize the developmental identity of skeletal muscle generated from hPSCs. Using cues that regulate the transition from progenitor to stem cell state in human skeletal muscle, I found new surface markers and maturation factors to improve hPSC skeletal muscle function. My work led to the first directed differentiation of hPSC to skeletal muscle with high engraftment efficiency (Nature Cell Bio, 2018). My PhD research with Dr. Paul Standley at University of Arizona, College of Medicine in Phoenix studied skeletal and cardiac muscle regeneration by connective tissue fibroblasts and how mechanical signals affected cytokine secretion. I am passionate about training the next generation of scientists, and those I have mentored have gone on to successful MD and graduate programs including at Harvard, Salk, and Weill Cornell.
Xi H, Langerman J, Shabri S, Chein P, Young C, Hicks MR, Gonzales K, Fujiwara K, Marzi J, Liebscher S, Spencer M, Van Handel B, Evseenko D, Schenke-layland K, Plath K, Pyle AD. A Human Skeletal Muscle Atlas Identifies the Trajectories of Stem and Progenitor Cells across Development and from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells. Cell Stem Cell. 2020 May; S1934-5909(20)30156-9. PMID: 32396864
Hicks MR, Hiserodt J, Paras K, Fujiwara W, Eskin A, Jan M, Xi H, Young CS, Evseenko D, Nelson SF, Spencer MJ, Van-Handel B, Pyle AD. ERBB3 and NGFR mark a distinct skeletal muscle progenitor cell in human development and in hPSCs. Nature Cell Biology. 2018 Jan; 20:46–57. PMID: 29255171
Young CS, Hicks MR, Ermolova NV, Nakano H, Jan M, Younesi S, Karumbayaram S, Kumagai-Cresse C, Zack J, Kohn D, Nakano A, Nelson S, Miceli MC, Spencer MJ, Pyle AD. A Single CRISPR-Cas9 Deletion Strategy that Targets the Majority of DMD Patients Restores Dystrophin Function in hiPSC-Derived Muscle Cells. Cell Stem Cell. 2016 April; 18:1-8. PMCID: PMC4826286
Hicks M. Pyle A. The Path from Pluripotency to Skeletal Muscle: Developmental Myogenesis Guides the Way. Cell Stem Cell. 2015 Sep; 17(3):255-257. PMCID: PMC4940037
Hicks MR, Cao TV, Campbell DC, Standley PR. Mechanical strain applied to human fibroblasts differentially regulates skeletal myoblast differentiation. Journal of Applied Physiology. 2012 Aug;113(3):465-72. PMCID: PMC3426169
International Society for Stem Cell Research
University of California, Los Angeles 2015—2020
Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center