Ellen A. G. Chernoff, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biology
Director, Indiana University Center for Regenerative Biology and Medicine

Education/ Training:
Ph.D. University of Chicago (1978)

Fibrotic scar removal and prevention in amphibian spinal cord regeneration.

The main projects in my laboratory involve spinal cord regeneration in the salamander Ambystoma mexicanum (the axolotl) because salamanders show extraordinary ability to regenerate organs as adults. We focus on the behavior of the ependymal cells, the latent stem cell population surrounding the central canal of the spinal cord that reconstructs the injured cord as well as the meningeal cells from connective tissues around the cord, that are necessary to CNS health in intact animals, yet form a permanent scar in mammals when breached.  We have two current projects.  The first project examines the role of retinoids (vitamin A metabolites) in the interaction of the reactive meninges and ependymal cells.  In the axolotl CNS, as in mammals, the arachnoid layer produces retinoids.  In mammals these compounds are necessary to CNS health.  In regenerating axolotl cord this expression is upregulated and is also propagated to the ependymal cells.  Based on our observation in culture, this process may be necessary to re-epithelialization of the reactive ependymal cell to reform the central canal of the regenerating cord and foster axonal regrowth. The second project addresses the surprising presence and role of multinucleated, functional osteoclasts in attachment and removal of the fibrotic arachnoid layer after injury. Meningeal invasion after injury produces an extracellular matrix environment that affects neural cell behavior.  In mammals meningeal invasion produces a fibrotic scar that halts axonal regrowth.  In the axolotl the invasive material is eventually removed, yet serves as the substrate for ependymal outgrowth and cord reconstruction. 

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Recent Publications: 

Blazer-Yost, B.L., A. J. Banga, A. Amos, E. Chernoff,  X. Lai, C. Li,  S. Mitra and F.A. Witzmann. (2010)  Effect of carbon nanoparticles on barrier function of renal epithelial cells. Nanotoxicology 5:354-371.

Santosh  N, Windsor L, Mahmoudi  B, Li, BB, Zhang W, Chernoff  E, Rao N, Stocum D, Song  F. (2011)  Matrix Metalloproteinase Expression During Blastema Formation in Regeneration-Competent versus Regeneration-Deficient Amphibian Limbs. Dev Dyn. 2011 May;240(5):1127-1141.

Tiwari S, Hudson S, Gattone VH 2nd, Miller C, Chernoff EA, Belecky-Adams TL. (2013) Meckelin 3 is necessary for photoreceptor outer segment development in rat Meckel syndrome.

PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e59306.

Teri L. Belecky-Adams, Ellen C. Chernoff, Jonathan M. Wilson, and Subramanian Dharmarajan (2013) Reactive Muller Glia as Potential Retinal Progenitors. In: “Neural Stem Cells - New Perspectives", Chapter 4, book edited by Luca Bonfanti , ISBN 978-953-51-1069-9.

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