Pierre Moffatt, Ph.D.

Faculty Profiles

PhotoPierreMoffatt1Assistant professor,
Department of Human Genetics,
Faculty of Medicine

Biographical information:

Dr. Moffatt received his Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Université de Montréal in 1996. He then pursued post-doctoral studies at the Centre de Cancérologie de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec and then at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Montreal. After having spent 5 years in local Montreal biotech companies, he moved to the Faculty of dentistry of Université de Montréal where he worked for 2 years to study gene expression in tooth and associated epithelia. Since November 2007, he is managing is own laboratory at the Shriners Hospital for Children which is currently funded by a grant from the Shriners of North America.

Research interests:

The lab main interests lie in the functional characterization of novel genes encoding secreted and membrane proteins that are specifically expressed in bone cells (chondrocytes and osteoblasts). We are using both in vitro (cell culture) and in vivo (transgenic and knockout mice) models to explore the roles played by those proteins in bone biology. Functional studies involve the use of various biochemical and molecular biology tools and techniques to overexpress or knock-down the genes of interest. More specifically we are trying to elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which the secreted protein osteocrin is affecting longitudinal bone growth. Also, we are actively studying another gene called Bril (bone-restricted ifitm-like) which encodes a small membrane protein expressed almost exclusively in osteoblasts. Through RNA knockdown in cell culture models we have shown that Bril is essential for the active mineralization process. Our efforts are now dedicated at understanding the mechanisms by which this is occurring. The generation of a mouse knockout model for the Bril gene is currently under way and should help decipher its function in vivo. Another aspect of our work consists of studying the transcriptional regulation of the Bril gene in order to identify the regulatory elements and transcription factors that control its expression. Through a proteomics approach, we are also interested in finding interaction partners for Bril and understand how this complex relays signals at the membrane. Through collaborative efforts with Dr. Antonio Nanci at Université de Montréal, we are also very much interested in novel genes (amelotin and apin) expressed in teeth and to try elucidating their role in tooth enamel formation.

Selected publications:

Moffatt P, Smith CE, St-Arnaud R, Nanci A. (2008) Characterization of Apin, a secreted protein highly expressed in tooth-associated epithelia. J Cell Biochem 103:941-56

Moffatt P, Thomas G, Sellin K., Bessette M-C, Lafrenière F, Lanctôt C. (2007) Osteocrin is a specific ligand of the natriuretic peptide clearance receptor that modulates bone growth. J Biol Chem 282:36454-62.

Moffatt P, Smith CE, St-Arnaud R, Simmons D, Wright JT, Nanci A. (2006) Cloning of rat amelotin and localization of the protein to the basal lamina of maturation stage ameloblasts and junctional epithelium. Biochem J 399:37-46.

Moffatt P, Smith CE, Sooknanan R, St-Arnaud R, Nanci A (2006) Identification of secreted and membrane proteins in the rat incisor enamel organ using a signal-trap screening approach. Eur J Oral Sci 114: Suppl. 1,139-146.

Wazen R, Moffatt P, Francis-Zalzal S, Daniel NG, Westerman KA, Nanci A. (2006) Local gene transfer to calcified tissue cells using prolonged infusion of a lentiviral vector. Gene Ther 13:1595-1602.

Moffatt P, Salois P, Gaumond M-H, St-Amant N, Lanctôt C (2004) Identification of a conserved cluster of skin-specific genes encoding secreted proteins. Gene 334:123-131.

Thomas G, Moffatt P, Salois P, Gaumond MH, Gingras R, Godin E, Miao D, Goltzman D, Lanctôt C.Osteocrin, a novel bone-specific secreted protein that modulates the osteoblast phenotype. J Biol Chem 278:50563-71.

Moffatt P, Salois P, Gaumond MH, St-Amant N, Godin E, Lanctôt C. (2002) Engineered viruses to select genes encoding secreted and membrane-bound proteins in mammalian cells. Nucleic Acids Res 30:4285-94.

I am currently looking for motivated and talented students at the MSc, PhD, and post-doc level. Candidate should preferably have a background in molecular biology, biology, biochemistry, genetics, or medicine.

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