Christine (Christi) B. Kern

Christine (Christi) B. Kern, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Room 647, Basic Science Building
Office: (843) 792-9618
Lab Phone: (843) 792-4279
Email: kernc@musc.edu

More information about the Christi Kern Lab


BA Biology, Hope College, Holland MI 1985
PhD Microbiology and Immunology, University of Kentucky 1992
Post-doctoral Fellow, University of Cincinnati, J. Lingrel, PhD



Research Interests:

The C. Kern lab is interested in the extracellular matrix i.e. the proteins and molecules that make up the environment in which cells reside. Our focus is on proteoglycans, not only how they contribute to the biomaterial properties of the tissues but also their role in signaling that impacts cell behavior and phenotype. Since the extracellular matrix architecture is a reflection of the biomechanical forces that the tissues endure, the majority of our research uses in vivo models in combination with ex-vivo assays. Our goal is to uncover novel molecular mechanisms that involve proteoglycan turnover that are critical for development and dysregulated in disease.

Our work has focused on the ADAMTS family of proteases that cleave large proteoglycans. The activity of these proteases is associated with degradation of cartilage that leads to disease. However our laboratory has determined that ADAMTS5 and ADAMTS9 are critical for cardiovascular development and potentially homeostasis. Therefore a major focus of the laboratory is to investigate the requirement of these proteases for the formation of the cardiac valves and arterial tissues of the ascending aorta and pulmonary arteries.

Recently the C. Kern lab, in collaboration with Dr. Hai Yao, has begun investigating the fibrocartilage of the temporomandibular joint. We are specifically interested in determining how proteoglycan turnover impacts joint development and defining the physiological roles for ADAMTS proteases. The temporomandibular joint is comprised of fibrocartilage, which is relatively understudied compared to hyaline cartilage found in knee joints. Our approach to regenerative medicine therapies is through developmental biology; in our ongoing temporomandibular joint research the C. Kern lab examines the molecular mechanisms required to establish fibrocartilage and investigates how changes in mechanical load impacts extracellular matrix turnover and cell signaling.

Undergraduate Mentoring:

One of the most rewarding aspects of my scientific career is providing opportunities in my laboratory to students to explore their scientific interest, potential and to gain professional life experience. In addition to the graduate student and postdoc in my lab I mentor undergraduates in the summer Student Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) and College of Charleston Students for independent study and bachelors essay research projects. In addition I also interview and facilitates placements of students in other MUSC basic science laboratories. If you are interested in undergraduate research email Dr. Kern: kernc@musc.edu

Current Funding:

National Institutes of Health: R01 HL121382 Proteoglycan Regulation During Cardiac Valve Development and Homeostasis, Role: Principal Investigator

American Heart Association: Grant in Aid: 17GRNT33700214 Role: Principal Investigator

Pilot Project, Center for Oral Health Research (COHR) June 1 2016 “Biomechanical forces and extracellular matrix remodeling in TMJ pathogenesis”, Role: Principal Investigator


  1. L.E. Dupuis, L. Doucette, A. Kittrell Rice, A. E. Lancaster, M. G. Berger, S. Chakravarti, and C. B. Kern. Development of Myotendinous-like Junctions That Anchor Cardiac Valves Requires Fibromodulin and Lumican. Dev. Dynamics 2016 accepted for publication.
  2. V. M. Fresco, C. B. Kern, M. Mohammadi and W. O. Twal. Fibulin-1 Binds to Fibroblast Growth Factor 8 With High Affinity: Effects On Embryo Survival. J. Biol. Chem. 2016 accepted for publication.
  3. L. E. Dupuis, M. G. Berger, S. Feldman, L. Doucette, V. Fowlkes, S.Chakravarti, S. Thibaudeau, N. Alcala, A. D. Bradshaw and C. B. Kern*. Lumican Deficiency Results In Cardiomyocyte Hypertrophy With Altered Collagen Assembly. J. Mol. Cell. Cardiol. 2015 Jul;84:70-80 (Journal Cover awarded for image from this manuscript).
  4. S. Mani, C. B. Kern, D. Kimbrough, B. Addy, H. Kasiganesan, W. Rivers, R. Patel, J. Chou, F. Spinale, R. Mukherjee, and D. Menick  "Inhibition of Class I Histone Deacetylase Activity Represses Matrix Metalloproteinase-2 and -9 Expression and Preserves LV Function Post Myocardial Infarction" American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory 2015 Jun 1;308(11):H1391-401
  5. K. Harikrishnan, M. A. Cooley, Y. Sugi, J. L. Barth, L. M. Rasmussen, C. B. Kern, K. M. Argraves, and W. S. Argraves. Fibulin-1 suppresses endothelial to mesenchymal transition in the proximal outflow tract. Mech Dev. 2015 Jan 6. pii: S0925-4773(14)00091-4. PMID: 25575930
  6. T.A. Burns, M.T. Zimmerman, D.R. Zimmerman, E.L. Krug, S. Comte-Walters, L.Reyes, M.A. Davis, K.L. Schey, J.H. Schwacke, C.B. Kern, C.H. Mjaatvedt. Imbalanced expression of Vcan mRNA splice form proteins alters heart morphology and cellular protein profiles. PLoS One. 2014 Feb 20;9(2):e89133.
  7. L.E. Dupuis LE and C.B. Kern. Small leucine rich proteoglycans exhibit unique spatiotemporal expression profiles during cardiac valve development. Developmental Dynamics 2014 Apr;243(4):601-11.
  8. L.E. Dupuis, H Osinska H, Weinstein MB, Hinton RB, Kern CB. Insufficient versican cleavage and Smad2 phosphorylation results in bicuspid aortic and pulmonary valves. Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology 2013 Jul;60:50-9.
  9. M.A. Cooley, V.M. Fresco, M.E. Dorlon, W.O. Twal, N.V. Lee, J.L. Barth, C.B. Kern, M. L. Iruela-Arispe, and W.S. Argraves.  Fibulin-1 is Required During Cardiac Ventricular Morphogenesis for Versican Cleavage, Suppression of ErbB2 and Erk1/2 Activation, and to Attenuate Trabecular Cardiomyocyte Proliferation, Developmental Dynamics, 2012  Feb241(2); 303-14.
  10. V. K. Krishnamurthy, A. M. Opoka, C. B. Kern, F. Guilak, D. A. Narmoneva, R. B. Hinton Maladaptive Matrix Remodeling and Regional Biomechanical Dysfunction in a Mouse Model of Aortic Valve Disease, Matrix Biology, 2012 Apr;31(3):197-205.
  11. L. Dupuis, D. R. McCulloch, J.D. McGarity, A. Bahn, A. Wessels, D. Weber, A. Megan Diminich, C.M. Nelson, S. S. Apte, C.B. Kern. Altered versican cleavage in ADAMTS5 deficient mice: A novel etiology of myxomatous valve disease. Developmental Biology  2011 Sep 1;357(1):152-64.
  12. R. Mukherjee, W.T. Rivers, J.M. Ruddy, R.G. Matthews, C.N. Koval, R.A. Plylar, E.I. Chang, R.K. Patal, C.B. Kern, R.E. Stroud, and F.G. Spinale.  Long-Term Localized High-Frequency Electric Stimulation Within the Myocardial Infarct; Effects on Matrix Metalloproteinases and Regional Remodeling, Circulation 2010 Jul 6;122(1):20-32.
  13. C.B. Kern, A. Wessels, J. McGarity, L. Dixon, E. Alston, W.S. Argraves, D. Geeting, C.M. Nelson, D.R. Menick and S.S. Apte. Reduced versican cleavage due to Adamts9 haploinsufficiency is associated with cardiac and aortic anomalies, Matrix Biology, 2010  May; 29(4): 304-16. PMC2862783.
  14. S.K. Mani, E.A. Egan, B.K. Addy, M. Grimm, H. Kasiganesan, T. Thiyagarajan, L. Renaud, J.H. Brown, C.B. Kern and D. R. Menick. Beta-Adrenergic receptor stimulated Ncx1 upregulation is mediated via CaMKII/AP-1 signaling pathway in adult    cardiomyocytes, J Mol Cell Cardiol, 2010 Feb;48(2):342-51. NIHMS165035.
  15. R. H. Anderson, R.P. Thompson and C. B. Kern. Development of aortic valves with 2 and 3 leaflets, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2009, Dec 8;54(24):2319-20.
  16. S. Chandrasekaran, R. E. Peterson, S. K. Mani, L. Renaud, A. L. Buchholz, B. Addy, L.  Xu, T. Thiyagarajan, C. B. Kern and Donald R. Menick.   Histone Deacetylases Facilitate Ncx1 Upregulation in Adult Cardiocytes  2009 Faseb Journal, Nov;23(11):3851-64.
  17. B. Snarr, C.B. Kern, and A. Wessels. Origin and Fate of Cardiac Mesenchyme,  Developmental Dynamics 2008 Oct; 237 Jul (10): 2804-19.
  18. M. A. Cooley, C.B. Kern, V.M. Fresco, A. Wessels, R.P. Thompson, T. C. McQuinn, W. O. Twal, C. H. Mjaatvedt, C. J. Drake and W. S. Argraves.  Fibulin-1 is required for morphogenesis of neural crest-derived structures, Developmental Biology 2008 15;319 (2):336-45.
  19. E.W Wirrig, B.S. Snarr, A. L. Phelps, J. L. Barth, V. M. Fresco C.B. Kern, C.H. Mjaatvedt, B. P. Toole, S. Hoffman, T.C. Trusk, W.S. Argraves, and A. Wessels. Cartilage Link Protein 1 (Crtl1), an extracellular matrix component playing an important role in heart developmental Developmental Biology 2007 Oct. 15;310(2):291-303.
  20. C.B. Kern, R.A. Norris, R.P. Thompson, W.S. Argraves, S.E. Fairey, L. Reyes, S. Hoffman, R.R. Markwald and C.H. Mjaatvedt Versican proteolysis mediates myocardial regression during outflow tract development. Developmental Dynamics 2007 Jan16;236(3):671-683.
  21. C.B. Kern, W.O. Twal, C.H. Mjaatvedt, S.E. Fairey, B.P. Toole, M.L. Iruela-Arispe and W.S. Argraves. Proteolytic Cleavage of Versican During Cardiac Cushion Morphogenesis. Developmental Dynamics 2006  Aug;235(8):2238-47.

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Last updated on 28-Dec-2017

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