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Peter Dana Yurchenco, M.D., Ph.D.

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Director of the Division of Experimental Pathology

Vice Chair of Research

Medical Director of Electron Microscopy Services

Office Address:
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
675 Hoes Lane West - R249
Piscataway, New Jersey 08854

Lab Website


My laboratory studies the assembly, structure and functions of basement membranes. Previously I developed a general model of assembly that explains how laminins bind to cell surface receptors, polymerize and bind to other components to generate an extracellular scaffolding. The model provides a basis to understand functions in health and disease. Two diseases of interest are laminin-deficient muscular dystrophy and Pierson syndrome, a disorder of kidney glomeruli. Recently my laboratory developed laminin-binding linker proteins that can be used to restore the structural integrity of damaged basement membranes. One of these was used to repair two mouse models of a laminin-deficient congenital muscular dystrophy while another holds promise to treat Pierson syndrome.

Description of Clinical Expertise:
Anatomic pathology (Board certified in 1982)

Description of Research:
A long-term goal has been to elucidate the mechanisms of basement membrane assembly, and to understand how architecture-dependent cell interactions mediate normal and pathological states. The methods used by my laboratory include those of protein biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, and developmental mouse genetics. The questions have grown from considerations of molecular interactions of assembly and cell interactions to analysis of the impact of these interactions on early embryogenesis, kidney development, neuromuscular development, and disease pathogenesis in kidney, nerve and muscle.

Undergraduate Education:
Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT.
1966-70; B.A. (major in biology). Graduated magna cum laude

Graduate Education:
Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, N.Y.
1970-76 (Medical Scientist Training Program (N.I.H.-funded program for combined degree).
Ph.D., 1975: Dissertation research (advisor: Dr. Paul H. Atkinson): Biochemistry/cell biology of the secretory and degradation pathways of cell surface glycoproteins in HeLa cells.
M.D., 1976.

Postdoctoral Training:
1976-77 Internship in Internal Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School affiliated hospitals, Hanover, NH.
1977,81 Residency in Anatomical Pathology, Yale University School of Medicine affiliated hospitals, New Haven, CT.
1978-80 Post-doctoral research fellowship with Dr. Vincent T. Marchesi (spectrin and glycophorin synthesis in erythrocyte precursor cells; spectrin domain structure). Department of Pathology, Yale University School of Medicine.

Selected Publications:

1: McKee KK, Yang DH, Patel R, Chen ZL, Strickland S, Takagi J, Sekiguchi K,

Yurchenco PD. Schwann cell myelination requires integration of laminin

activities. J Cell Sci. 2012 Oct 1;125(Pt 19):4609-19. doi: 10.1242/jcs.107995.

Epub 2012 Jul 5. PubMed PMID: 22767514; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3500866.



2: Yang DH, McKee KK, Chen ZL, Mernaugh G, Strickland S, Zent R, Yurchenco PD.

Renal collecting system growth and function depend upon embryonic γ1 laminin

expression. Development. 2011 Oct;138(20):4535-44. doi: 10.1242/dev.071266. Epub

2011 Sep 8. PubMed PMID: 21903675; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3177319.



3: Yurchenco PD. Basement membranes: cell scaffoldings and signaling platforms.

Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2011 Feb 1;3(2). pii: a004911. doi:

10.1101/cshperspect.a004911. Review. PubMed PMID: 21421915; PubMed Central PMCID:




4: McKee KK, Capizzi S, Yurchenco PD. Scaffold-forming and Adhesive Contributions

of Synthetic Laminin-binding Proteins to Basement Membrane Assembly. J Biol Chem.

2009 Mar 27;284(13):8984-94. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M809719200. Epub 2009 Feb 2. PubMed

PMID: 19189961; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2659255.



5: McKee KK, Harrison D, Capizzi S, Yurchenco PD. Role of laminin terminal

globular domains in basement membrane assembly. J Biol Chem. 2007 Jul

20;282(29):21437-47. Epub 2007 May 21. PubMed PMID: 17517882.



6: Colognato H, Yurchenco PD. The laminin alpha2 expressed by dystrophic dy(2J)

mice is defective in its ability to form polymers. Curr Biol. 1999 Nov

18;9(22):1327-30. PubMed PMID: 10574769.



7: Li S, Liquari P, McKee KK, Harrison D, Patel R, Lee S, Yurchenco PD.

Laminin-sulfatide binding initiates basement membrane assembly and enables

receptor signaling in Schwann cells and fibroblasts. J Cell Biol. 2005 Apr

11;169(1):179-89. PubMed PMID: 15824137; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2171891.



Li S, Edgar D, Fässler R, Wadsworth W, Yurchenco PD. The role of laminin in

embryonic cell polarization and tissue organization. Dev Cell. 2003

May;4(5):613-24. Review. PubMed PMID: 12737798.