Pier Lorenzo Puri, M.D., Ph.D.

Pier Lorenzo Puri's Research Focus

Muscular Dystrophy, Cancer

Puri’s lab group investigates the molecular mechanism underpinning genome reprogramming during cell lineage commitment and terminal differentiation of embryonic and adult stem cells, and during induced pluripotency.

The Puri lab studies how extrinsic and intrinsic cues are converted into epigenetic information that controls gene expression in embryonic and adult stem cells. The lab is especially interested in skeletal muscle progenitors, and one area of focus is how deregulated gene expression in these cells leads to development of rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS).

We have a specific interest in the mechanism by which the cues released within the regenerative environment are converted by intracellular signaling into the epigenetic information that controls gene expression in muscle stem cells and other cellular components of their niche.

Our area of investigation include:

  1. the impact of regeneration cues on the ability of muscle progenitors to proliferate and differentiate into skeletal myofibers
  2. the discovery of pharmacological interventions that promote muscle regeneration to repair diseased muscles, and in particular dystrophic muscles
  3. the ability of extracellular signal-activated kinases to influence the assembly of chromatin-associated complexes that regulate gene transcription during cellular regeneration, differentiation, and neoplastic transformation
  4. the epigenetic networks that regulate embryonic stem cell commitment toward different lineages and induced pluripotency in somatic cells
  5. the mechanism that maintains the genomic integrity in differentiation-committed cells exposed to genotoxic agents
  6. the molecular relationship between DNA damage, terminal differentiation and senescence during organismal aging.

Pier Lorenzo Puri's Bio

Pier Lorenzo Puri earned his M.D. at the University of Rome “la Sapienza” in 1991. Dr. Puri completed his internship in Internal Medicine at the hospital "Policlinico Umberto I" (Rome) from 1992-1997, and during this  time he was frequently working at the Freien University of Berlin, as visiting scientist. Dr. Puri trained as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), in the department of Cell Biology, under the supervision of Dr. Wang, from 1997 to 2001. He was appointed as Staff Scientist at the Salk Institute (La Jolla) from 2001 to 2004. From 2002 to 2012 he was Telethon Scientist at the Dulbecco Telethon Institute in Rome, where he moved from the rank of Assistant to Senior scientist (apical position), which he declined, leaving the institute in 2012.

Dr. Puri joined Sanford Burnham Prebys as an Assistant Professor in 2004. He has been promoted to Associate Professor in 2010 and to Full professor in 2015. He is a member of the Muscle Development and Regeneration program at SBP.

Dr. Puri has been also Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego (2008-2012) and Associate Member of Sanford Children’s Health Research Center from 2008.

Dr. Puri is Member of Editorial Board of Journal of Cellular Physiology and Skeletal Muscle. He is a current Standing Member, NIH Study Section (SMEP) and is regularly invited as reviewer for high impact journals, including Nature magazines, Cell magazines, Genes and Development, EMBO J..

Dr. Puri is ad Hoc reviewer for many funding agencies, including Welcome Trust UK, ANR (Agency National pour la Reserche), UK MCR (Medical Research Council), Hong Kong Research Grant Council (RGC), FWF Germany, Israel Science Foundation (ISF), Association Francaise contre le Myopatie (AFM). He is also member of the scientific board of Parent Project Italy, parent Project Spain, Parent Project Poland and Cure Duchenne (US).

Dr. Puri’s research is funded by NIH, CIRM, MDA and AHA grants and is contributed to elucidate fundamental insights into the molecular and epigenetic mechanism by which regeneration cues are converted in chromatin modifications that regulate gene expression in muscle stem cells and other muscle-derived cell types that participate to skeletal myogenesis in health, aging and disease conditions.


University of Rome La Sapienza, Undergraduate, Internal Medicine
University of Rome La Sapienza, M.D., Internal Medicine
University of Rome La Sapienza, Ph.D., Internal Medicine
University of California San Diego, Postdoctoral, Department of Biology

Other Appointments

Associate Adjunct Professor, Department of Pediatrics, UCSD
Associate Member, Sanford Children’s Health Research Center

DAR Accessory


Involvement of BMPs/Smad signaling pathway in mechanical response in osteoblasts.

Wang L, Zhang X, Guo Y, Chen X, Li R, Liu L, Shi C, Guo C, Zhang Y

Cell Physiol Biochem 2010 ;26(6):1093-102

An evolutionarily acquired genotoxic response discriminates MyoD from Myf5, and differentially regulates hypaxial and epaxial myogenesis.

Innocenzi A, Latella L, Messina G, Simonatto M, Marullo F, Berghella L, Poizat C, Shu CW, Wang JY, Puri PL, Cossu G

EMBO Rep 2011 Feb ;12(2):164-71

TNF/p38α/polycomb signaling to Pax7 locus in satellite cells links inflammation to the epigenetic control of muscle regeneration.

Palacios D, Mozzetta C, Consalvi S, Caretti G, Saccone V, Proserpio V, Marquez VE, Valente S, Mai A, Forcales SV, Sartorelli V, Puri PL

Cell Stem Cell 2010 Oct 8 ;7(4):455-69

Show All Select Publications

Lack of PKCθ Promotes Regenerative Ability of Muscle Stem Cells in Chronic Muscle Injury.

Fiore PF, Benedetti A, Sandonà M, Madaro L, De Bardi M, Saccone V, Puri PL, Gargioli C, Lozanoska-Ochser B, Bouché M

Int J Mol Sci 2020 Jan 31 ;21(3)

Macrophages fine tune satellite cell fate in dystrophic skeletal muscle of mdx mice.

Madaro L, Torcinaro A, De Bardi M, Contino FF, Pelizzola M, Diaferia GR, Imeneo G, Bouchè M, Puri PL, De Santa F

PLoS Genet 2019 Oct ;15(10):e1008408

Transcription Factor-Directed Re-wiring of Chromatin Architecture for Somatic Cell Nuclear Reprogramming toward trans-Differentiation.

Dall'Agnese A, Caputo L, Nicoletti C, di Iulio J, Schmitt A, Gatto S, Diao Y, Ye Z, Forcato M, Perera R, Bicciato S, Telenti A, Ren B, Puri PL

Mol Cell 2019 Nov 7 ;76(3):453-472.e8

The Stat3-Fam3a axis promotes muscle stem cell myogenic lineage progression by inducing mitochondrial respiration.

Sala D, Cunningham TJ, Stec MJ, Etxaniz U, Nicoletti C, Dall'Agnese A, Puri PL, Duester G, Latella L, Sacco A

Nat Commun 2019 Apr 17 ;10(1):1796

Intergenerational inheritance of high fat diet-induced cardiac lipotoxicity in Drosophila.

Guida MC, Birse RT, Dall'Agnese A, Toto PC, Diop SB, Mai A, Adams PD, Puri PL, Bodmer R

Nat Commun 2019 Jan 14 ;10(1):193

Show All Publications