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Barbara Maker Vertel, PhD

Barbara Maker Vertel, PhD

Cell Biology and Anatomy Discipline

Dr. Vertel received her BS degree in biology from Cornell University in 1968 and her PhD in biology from the University of Chicago in 1974. Her postdoctoral research was conducted in the Departments of Biochemistry and Pediatrics at the University of Chicago. Dr. Vertel was an Assistant Professor of Biology at Syracuse University from 1980 to 1986 and at SUNY Upstate Medical Center at Syracuse from 1985 before joining the faculty of the Chicago Medical School as an Associate Professor in 1987. She was later awarded tenure, and in 1994 was promoted to full Professor. Dr. Vertel’s research concerns the formation of extracellular matrix, particularly in cartilage. Emphasis is placed on intracellular trafficking and quality control in health and disease. For over 30 years, her research received funding from the NIH and the Arthritis Foundation.


Extracellular matrix formation in cartilage has been the main subject of Dr. Vertel's research. The emphasis on intracellular events in subcellular compartments reveals underlying mechanisms for the synthesis, processing and quality control of cartilage matrix molecules and other secreted or membrane proteins in normal cells, and as the basis of disease. Immunohistochemical, biochemical, and molecular approaches are used in conjunction with live cell imaging to develop a broad view. Immunolocalization at the levels of light and electron microscopy is used to visualize coordinate biosynthesis and matrix deposition, while biochemical studies provide complementary information about processing and biosynthetic intermediates of matrix molecules. Transfection experiments utilizing genetic constructs are combined with live cell imaging studies of GFP-tagged versions of the proteins. Specific attention has been directed to models of chondrodysplasias and cataracts.

Selected Publications

  • Veditti, R, Scanu, T, Santoro, M, Di Tullio, G, Spaar, A, Gaibisso, R, Beznoussenko, GV, Mironov, AA, Mironov Jr, A, Zelante, L, Piemotese, MR, Notorangelo, A, Malhotra, V, Vertel, BM, Wilson, C, De Matteis, MA (2012). Sedlin controls the ER export of procollagen by regulating the Sar1 cycle. Science 337,1668-1672.
  • Tong, J-J, Sohn, BCH, Lam, A, Walters, DE, Vertel, BM, Ebihara, L (2013).  Properties of two cataract-associated mutations located in the NH2terminus of connexin 46.Am J Physiol Cell Physiol.304, C823-32.
  • Ebihara, L, Tong, J-J, Vertel, BM, White, TW, Chen, T-L (2011) Properties of connexin 46 hemichannels in dissociated lens fiber cells. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci.52: 882-889.
  • Chen, T-LL, Posey, KL, Hecht, JT, and Vertel, BM (2008)  COMP mutations:  Domain-dependent relationship between abnormal chondrocyte trafficking and clinical PSACH and MED phenotypes.  J Cell Biochem.103: 778-787.
  • Dong, L, Liu, X, Li, H, Vertel, BM, Ebihara, L. (2006)  Role of the N-terminus in permeability of chicken connexin 45.6 gap junctional channels. J Physiol.576: 787-799. 
  • Zhao, W, Chen, T-LL, Vertel, BM, and Colley, KJ  (2006) The CMP-sialic acid transporter is localized in the medial-trans Golgi and possesses two specific endoplasmic reticulum export motifs in its carboxy-terminal cytoplasmic tail. J Biol Chem. 281: 31106-31118.
  • Fu, L, Gao, Y, Tousson, A, Shah, A, Chen, T-LL, Vertel, BM, and Sztul, E (2005)  Nuclear aggresomes form by fusion of PML-associated aggregates. Molec Biol Cell16: 4905-4917.
  • Chen, T-LL, Stevens, JW, Hecht, JT, and Vertel, BM (2004) Cell-type specific trafficking of expressed mutant COMP in a cell culture model for PSACH. Matrix Biology23:  433-444.
  • Chen, T-LL, Chen, C, Bergeron, NQ, Close, BE, Bohrer, TJ, Vertel, BM, and Colley, KJ (2003)  The two rat a2,6-Sialyltransferase (ST6Gal I) isoforms:  Evaluation of catalytic activity and intra-Golgi localization. Glycobiology13:109-117.
  • Chen, T-LL, Wang, PY, Luo, W, Gwon, S, Flay, NW, Zheng, J, Guo, C, Tanzer, ML, and Vertel, BM (2001)  Aggrecan domains expected to traffic through the exocytic pathway are misdirected to the nucleus. Exp Cell Res.263:224-235.
  • Hecht, JT, Deere, M, Putnam, E, Cole, W, Vertel, BM, Chen, H, Lawler, J (1998) Characterization of Cartilage Oligomeric Matrix Protein (COMP) in human normal and Pseudoachondroplasia musculoskeletal tissues. Matrix Biol.17: 269-278.
  • Vertel, BM (1995) The ins and outs of aggrecan. Trends in Cell Biol. 5:458-464.
  • Domowicz, M, Li, H, Hennig, A, Henry, J, Vertel, BM and Schwartz, NB (1995) The biochemically and immunologically distinct CSPG of notochord is a product of the aggrecan gene. Develop Biol.171:655-664.
  • Vertel, BM, Grier, BL., Li, H and Schwartz, NB (1994) The chondrodystrophy, Nanomelia: Biosynthesis and processing of the defective aggrecan precursor. Biochem J.301:211-216.
  • Vertel, BM, Walters, LM, Grier, B, Maine, N and Goetinck, PF (1993) Nanomelic chondrocytes synthesize, but fail to translocate, a truncated aggrecan precursor. J Cell Sci.104: 939-948.
  • Vertel, BM, Walters, LM, Flay, N, Kearns, AE, and Schwartz, NB (1993) Xylosylation is an ER to Golgi event. J Biol Chem.268:11105-11112.
  • Kearns, AE, Vertel, BM, and Schwartz, NB (1993) Topography of glycosylation and UDP-xylose production. J Biol Chem.268:11097-11104.
  • Li, H., Schwartz, N.B. and Vertel, BM (1993) cDNA Cloning of chick cartilage chondroitin sulfate (aggrecan) core protein and identification of a stop codon in the aggrecan gene associated with the chondrodystrophy,NanomeliaJ Biol Chem.268:23504-23511.
  • Vertel, BM, Walters, LM, Mills, D (1992). Subcompartments of the endoplasmic reticulum. Seminars in Cell Biol.3: 325-341.
  • Montgomery, RI, Vertel, BM, Liang, J, Flay, NW, Lidholt, K, Lindahl, U, and Esko, J (1992) Stable heparin-producing cell lines derived from the Furth murine mastocytoma Proc Natl Acad Sci. USA89: 11327-11331. 
  • Vertel, BM, Velasco, A, LaFrance, S, Walters, L and Kaczman-Daniel, K  (1989) Precursors of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan are segregated within a subcompartment of the chondrocyte endoplasmic reticulum. J Cell Biol.109: 1827-1836.


  • Scientific Foundations of Medicine
  • Literature in Medicine 
  • Clinical Reflections 
  • Interprofessional Teams and Culture in Health Care 
  • Molecular Cell Biology I  
  • Cell and Molecular Developmental Biology 
  • Cell/Molecular Biology Techniques 
  • Advanced Cell Biology
  • Cell Biology/Anatomy Journal Club        
  • USMLE Board Review – CPR


  • Faculty Appointments, Promotions and Tenure Committee (CMS)
  • Curriculum Committee, Year 3-4 Curriculum Subcommittee Co-Chair (CMS)
  • Grant writing Assistance Program (GRAP; Univ) 
  • CMS Faculty Advisor
  • CMS Interviews
  • Molecular Cellular Sciences Seminar Committee, Chair (SGPS)
  • IGPBS Admissions Committee (SGPS)
  • Cell Biology and Anatomy Graduate Oversight Committee, Chair
  • Director, Electron Microscopy Center (Univ)
  • Co-Director, Werner Straus Live Cell Imaging Laboratory (Univ)
  • Research Support Laboratory Oversight Committee (Univ)