Assistant Professor, Department of Human Genetics, McGill University
Principal investigator, Lady Davis Institute
Dr. Colin Crist received his BSc from the University of British Columbia and his PhD from the University of Tokyo. He was a post-doctoral research associate in the lab of Margaret Buckingham at the Institut Pasteur (Paris, France). In 2012, he obtained a faculty appointment as an assistant professor at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research and the Department of Human Genetics at McGill University. He holds the Marjorie and Gerald Bronfman Chair in Skeletal Muscle Stem Cell research.
Major Research Activities
Muscular dystrophies are a group of neuromuscular disorders that are characterized by progressive weakness and wasting of muscles, impeding the ability to walk, speak and ultimately breathe. There is currently no cure.
In order to restore muscle function, stem cell-based therapies for muscular dystrophies should be pursued because they represent the only broad strategy that has the potential to introduce a normal version of the diseased protein into dystrophic muscle. It is also the only strategy that aims to replace the pool of skeletal muscle stem cells required for muscle regeneration. For stem cell based therapy to be effective, it is important for the transplanted stem cell to replace the function of the muscle specific stem cells of the host. Namely, they must contribute to regeneration and return to a quiescent state, primed and ready-to-go, such that they can rapidly activate in response to future rounds of muscle injury.
Dr. Crist uses techniques in molecular biology and genetics to investigate the mechanism by which a muscle stem cell maintains tissue identity while remaining quiescent. The major research themes of his laboratory are as follows:
1) To determine the effect of microRNA activity on muscle stem cell behaviour in dystrophic muscle.
2) To characterize cytoplasmic granules in the quiescent muscle stem cell as sites of mRNA storage.
3) To manipulate stem cell activity for enhanced engraftment in dystrophic muscle.
Applications of the research include development of stem cell based treatments and discovery of modifiers of muscle stem cell activity within the body as novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of muscular dystrophy.
Crist, C.G., Montarras, D. and Buckingham, M. (2012) The muscle satellite cell is primed for myogenesis, but maintains quiescence with sequestration of Myf5 mRNA targeted by microRNA-31 in mRNP granules. Cell Stem Cell (in press).
Crist, C.G., Montarras, D., Pallafacchina, G., Rocancourt, D., Cumano, A., Conway, S.J., and Buckingham, M. (2009). Muscle stem cell behaviour is modified by microRNA-27 regulation of Pax3 expression. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 106, 13383-13387.
Daubas, P.*, Crist, C.G.*, Bajard, L., Relaix, F., Pecnard, E., Rocancourt, D., and Buckingham, M. (2009). The regulatory mechanisms that underlie inappropriate transcription of the myogenic determination gene Myf5 in the central nervous system. Dev. Biol. 327, 71-82 (* co-first author).