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Chien-Ping Ko

Professor of Biological Sciences

Contact Information
Phone: (213) 740-9182
Office: HNB 209A
Office Hours: W, F : 2-3 PM



Ph.D. Physiology, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, 5/1975
B.S. Zoology, National Taiwan University, Tawain, 5/1970

Postdoctoral Training

Postdoctoral Fellow, NINDS, National Institutes of Health, 1978-1981  
Postdoctroal Fellow, University of Colorado Medical Center, 1975-1978  

Academic Appointment, Affiliation, and Employment History

Professor, University of Southern California, Fall 1996   
Associate Professor, University of Southern California, Fall 1987   
Assistant Professor, University of Southern California, Spring 1981   

Description of Research

Summary Statement of Research Interests

Professor Ko's research interests include cellular and molecular mechanisms of synaptic function, regeneration, development, remodeling and maintenance. His current research focuses on the role of the perisynaptic Schwann cell (PSC) and synapse-glial interactions at a prototype synapse, the neuromuscular junction. He is also interested in motor neuron diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Professor Ko uses transgenic mouse models to investigate various aspects of the disease mechanisms.

Research Keywords

cellular neurobiology, synapse formation, sprouting, remodeling and maintenance, synaptic transmission, synapse-glial interactions, neuromuscular junction, Schwann cells, amyotrophical lateral sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy, motor neuron disease


Book Chapter

Feng, Z., Ko, C. (2009). Schwann Cells and Plasticity of the Neuromuscular Junction. pp. 561-566. Developmental Neurobiology by Academic Press.
Ko, C., Sugiura, Y., Feng, Z. (2007). The Biology of perisynaptic (terminal) Schwann cells. pp. p.72-99. Cambridge: The Biology of Schwann cells/Cambridge University Press.

Encyclopedia Article

Feng, Z., Ko, C. (2009). Schwann Cells and Plasticity of the Neuromuscular Junction. (L.R. Squire, Ed.). 491-496. Vol. 8. Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. Oxford: Academic Press.
Ko, C. (2001). Neuromuscular System. 10595-10600. Oxford: International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Journal Article

Ling, K., Gibbs, R., Feng, Z., Ko, C. (2012). Severe neuromuscular denervation of clinically relevant muscles in a mouse model of spinal muscular atrophy. Human Molecular Genetics. Vol. 21, pp. 185-195. PubMed Web Address
Yoo, Y., Ko, C. (2011). Treatment with trichostatin A initiated after disease onset delays disease progression and increases survival in a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Experimental Neurology. Vol. 231, pp. 147-159. PubMed Web Address
Ling, K., Lin, M., Zingg, B., Feng, Z., Ko, C. (2010). Synaptic Defects in the Spinal and Neuromuscular Circuitry in a Mouse Model of Spinal Muscular Atrophy. PLoS ONE. Vol. 5 (11), pp. e15457. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015457. PubMed Web Address
An, M., Lin, W., Yang, J., Dominguez, B., Padgett, D., Sugiura, Y., Aryal, P., Gould, T. W., Oppenheim, R. W., Hester, M. E., Kaspar, B. K., Ko, C., Lee, K. (2010). Acetylcholine negatively regulates development of the neuromuscular junction through distinct cellular mechanisms. (This paper was recommended by Faculty of 1000 Biology). PNAS. Vol. 107, pp. 10702-10707. PubMed Web Address
Feng, Z., Ko, C. (2008). Schwann cells promote synaptogenesis at the neuromuscular junction via Transforming Growth Factor (TGF)-beta1. (This paper was highlighted in This Week in The Journal, and recommended by Faculty of 1000 Biology). Journal of Neuroscience. Vol. 28, pp. 9599-9609.. PubMed Web Address
Ko, C. (2008). Do nerve terminal sprouts contribute to functional recovery from botulinum neurotoxin A?. Journal of Physiology (Lond.). Vol. 586, pp. 3021. PubMed Web Address
Feng, Z., Ko, C. (2008). The Role of Glial Cells in the Formation and Maintenance of the Neuromuscular Junction. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci.. Vol. 1132, pp. 19-28. PubMed Web Address
Cao, G., Ko, C. (2007). Schwann cell-derived factors modulate synaptic activities at developing neuromuscular synapses. The Journal of Neuroscience. Vol. 27 (25), pp. 6712-6722. PubMed Web Address
Feng, Z., Ko, C. (2007). Neuronal-glia interactions at the vertebrate neuromuscular junction. Current Opinion in Pharmacology. Vol. 7, pp. 316-324. PubMed Web Address
Feng, Z., Ko, C. (2005). Synapse-Glia Interactions at the Vertebrate Neuromuscular Junction. The Neuroscientist. Vol. 11, pp. 503-513. PubMed Web Address
Corfas, G., Velardez, M., Ko, C., Ratner, N., Peles, E. (2004). Mechanisms and roles of axon-Schwann cell interactions. Journal of Neuroscience. Vol. 24, pp. 9250-9260. PubMed Web Address
Koirala, S., Ko, C. (2004). Pruning an axon piece by piece: a new mode of synapse elimination. Neuron. Vol. 44, pp. 578-580. PubMed Web Address
Reddy, L. V., Koirala, S., Sugiura, Y., Herrera, A. A., Ko, C. (2003). Glial cells maintain synaptic structure and function and promote development of the neuromuscular junction in vivo. (This paper was recommended by Faculty of 1000 Biology). Neuron. Vol. 40, pp. 563-580. PubMed Web Address
Ko, Chien-Ping and Thompson, Wesley J. (Ed.). (2003). The Neuromuscular Junction-a Special Issue. Journal of Neurocytology. Vol. 32, pp. 421-1037.
Koirala, S., Reddy, L. V., Ko, C. (2003). Roles of glial cells in the formation, function, and maintenance of the neuromuscular junction. Journal of Neurocytology. Vol. 32, pp. 987-1002. PubMed Web Address
Peng, H., Yang, J., Dai, Z., Lee, C., Hung, H., Feng, Z., Ko, C. (2003). Differential effects of neurotrophins and Schwann cell-derived signals on neuronal survival/growth and synaptogenesis. The Journal of Neuroscience. Vol. 23, pp. 5050-5060. PubMed Web Address
Brandon, E., Lin, W., D'Amour, K., Pizzo, D., Dominguez, B., Sugiura, Y., Thode, S., Ko, C., Thal, L., Gage, F., Lee, K. (2003). Aberrant patterning of neuromuscular synapses in choline acetyltransferase deficient mice. The Journal of Neuroscience. Vol. 23, pp. 539-549. PubMed Web Address
Yang, J., Cao, G., Koirala, S., Reddy, L. V., Ko, C. (2001). Schwann cells express active agrin and enhance acetylcholine receptor aggregation on muscle fibers. The Journal of Neuroscience. Vol. 21, pp. 9572-9584. PubMed Web Address

Honors and Awards

NIH/NSF Career Development Award, 1983-1987  

Service to the University

Administrative Appointments

Head, Neurobiology Section, Dept. of Biological Sciences, 08/16/2009-08/15/2012  
Director, Nuerobiology Ph.D. Program (BNRO), Dept. of Biological Sciences, 09/2008-06/2011  
Director/Associate Director Center of Electron Microscopy and Microanalysis, 1994-2009  

Service to the Profession

Editorships and Editorial Boards

Editorial Board member, Neuron Glia Biology, 2004-  
Associate Editor, Brain Cell Biology, 2006-2008  
Associate Editor, Journal of Neurocytology, 2000-2005  
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