John Muschler, Ph.D., Scientist

California Pacific CURRENTS: The online journal of CPMC Research Institute

Examining cellular responses to the extracellular matrix that underlie cancer progression
  • Cell adhesion molecules on the surface of cancer cells

    Cell adhesion molecules reside on the surface of cells and mediate attachment between cells (green) or between cells and the surrounding matrix (blue) in normal tissues. Dr. Muschler and other discovery researchers at CPMCRI are investigating changes on the surface of cancer cells, particularly the extracellular matrix receptor dystroglycan. New insights into the molecular changes underlying cancer progression are helping lead to novel and more personalized treatments for the illness.


Research Overview

  • The Muschler lab is investigating how alterations in cancer cell surfaces, especially in the extracellular matrix (ECM) receptor dystroglycan, arise and contribute to a wide range of cancers.
  • Restoring dystroglycan function in a tumor cell line reduces cancer potential. In breast cancer cells, dystroglycan anchors laminin—a protein critical to ECM assembly—to the cell surface. The loss of laminin alters both the ECM and cell interactions with the matrix, and may contribute to metastasis.


Dr. Muschler completed his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, and he was a post-doctoral fellow at both the Pasteur Institute and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.


Publication Search


Wang L, Barth CW, Sibrian-Vazquez M, Escobedo JO, Lowry M, Muschler J, Li H, Gibbs SL, Strongin RM, Far-Red and Near-Infrared Seminaphthofluorophores for Targeted Pancreatic Cancer Imaging. ACS Omega

Leonoudakis D, Huang G, Akhavan A, Fata JE, Singh M, Gray JW, Muschler JL, Endocytic trafficking of laminin is controlled by dystroglycan and is disrupted in cancers. J Cell Sci

Akhavan A, Griffith OL, Soroceanu L, Leonoudakis D, Luciani-Torres MG, Daemen A, Gray JW, Muschler JL, Loss of cell-surface laminin anchoring promotes tumor growth and is associated with poor clinical outcomes. Cancer Res

Leonoudakis D, Singh M, Mohajer R, Mohajer P, Fata JE, Campbell KP, Muschler JL, Dystroglycan controls signaling of multiple hormones through modulation of STAT5 activity. J Cell Sci

Muschler J, Streuli CH, Cell-matrix interactions in mammary gland development and breast cancer. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol

John Muschler, Ph.D., Scientist
Primary Research Interests
  • Role of dystroglycan in metastatic breast cancer