Karl Matlin

Sr. Fellow,
- Professor, Department of Surgery

Contact Information

Department of Surgery
The University of Chicago
5812 S. Ellis Av., SBRI J557
Chicago, IL 60637

Phone: 773 834 2242
Fax: 773 834 2242
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


The Matlin Laboratory studies the biogenesis of epithelial polarity in both cultured cells and epithelial injury models.

Research in the Matlin Laboratory is focused on understanding the biogenesis of apical-basal polarity in epithelial cells. Epithelial polarity is critical for the normal functioning of epithelial organs, such as the kidney and the gastrointestinal tract. Furthermore, the loss of epithelial polarity is an important contributor to the pathogenesis of disease following epithelial injury and carcinogenesis.

A primary current project is focused on deciphering how interaction of epithelial cells with the underlying extracellular matrix helps to orient the apical-basal axis in cells. In particular, we are examining how two forms of laminin, a major protein of the basal lamina, affect cell adhesion, migration, proliferation, and, ultimately polarization. One of these is laminin 332 (formerly known as laminin 5), a truncated form implicated in epithelial regeneration after injury. The other is laminin 511 (formerly known as laminin 10), a network-forming laminin whose assembly is believed to be required for polarization. Experiments in this area are conducted using Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells, the leading mammalian model for the study of polarization mechanisms.

A variety of other projects are also underway or are being planned. These include examination of laminin involvement in regeneration of the renal tubular epithelium after acute or chronic kidney injury using mouse models, investigation of the roles of laminins in cancer metastasis, and determination of the effects of laminin 332 on network assembly of laminin 511 using atomic force microscopy. In addition, our laboratory is very interested in developing computational approaches to model epithelial polarization on a systems level.

Aside from work in the laboratory, we are also conducting research on the history and philosophy of cell biology, particulary in the modern period after 1970, and the relationship of the discipline of cell biology to the parallel discipline of molecular biology.

Research Papers