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Prof. Elazar Zelzer

Molecular Genetics
Neuronal - Musculoskeletal System Development and Disease
Research Focus
Proprioception and the the musculoskeletal system in development and disease

My lab studies regulatory interactions between tissues during musculoskeletal development, function and repair. In recent years, we have focused on two main subjects, namely enthesis development and skeletal regulation by proprioception. The enthesis is a unique transitional tissue that connects between tendon and bone. It enables the attachment of these two materials, which differ greatly in stiffness, by exhibiting a gradient of cellular and extracellular properties along its length. We have recently discovered that the enthesis is formed by a unique population of bi-fated cells, whose transcriptome contain a mixture of chondrocyte and tenocyte genes. Our current objectives are to determine the origin and location of these cells and how their unique fate is regulated, both molecularly and by mechanical signals.

Proprioception, or the sense of self-movement and body position, relies on information obtained by sensory organs that detect muscle length and tension. We have found recently that impaired proprioceptive signaling results in skeletal pathologies, such as scoliosis, kyphosis and hip dysplasia, as well as in impaired fracture healing. We then proceeded to decipher the transcriptome and proteome of the muscle spindle, the main proprioceptive mechanosensor that is located inside skeletal muscles. We now explore the molecular mechanisms underlying proprioceptive function during development, regeneration and aging of the musculoskeletal system.