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Craig J Ceol PhD

TitleAssistant Professor
InstitutionUMass Chan Medical School
DepartmentProgram in Molecular Medicine
AddressUMass Chan Medical School
368 Plantation Street AS6.1041
Worcester MA 01605
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    Other Positions
    InstitutionT.H. Chan School of Medicine
    DepartmentMolecular, Cell and Cancer Biology

    InstitutionT.H. Chan School of Medicine
    DepartmentProgram in Molecular Medicine

    InstitutionMorningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
    DepartmentCancer Biology

    InstitutionMorningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
    DepartmentInterdisciplinary Graduate Program

    InstitutionMorningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
    DepartmentMD/PhD Program

    InstitutionMorningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
    DepartmentMillennium MD/PhD Program

    InstitutionUMass Chan Programs, Centers and Institutes
    DepartmentBioinformatics and Integrative Biology

    Collapse Biography 
    Collapse education and training
    Yale University, New Haven, CT, United StatesBSMolecular Biophysics & Biochem
    Yale University, New Haven, CT, United StatesMSMolecular Biophysics & Biochem
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, United StatesPHDBiology

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    Craig Ceol's Lab Page

    Academic Background


    Craig Ceol received his B.S./M.S. degree from Yale University and subsequently worked as an Associate Scientist at Eli Lilly and Company.  He received his Ph.D. from M.I.T. in 2002 and was a postdoctoral fellow at M.I.T. until 2004.  From 2004 to 2008, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School where he was supported by fellowships from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation and Charles A. King Trust.  In 2009 he continued his postdoctoral studies as an Instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School with support from an NIH Pathway to Independence Award.  In 2010, Dr. Ceol joined the Program in Molecular Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

    Genetic regulators of melanoma formation using the zebrafish

    Craig Ceol

    Cancer is a genetic disease that results from mutations in genes that control cell growth, division and survival.  Our laboratory seeks to identify the genetic defects that underlie tumor initiation and maintenance and understand the aberrant cellular processes that result from cancer-promoting mutations.  We have focused on malignant melanoma, the most aggressive and deadly skin cancer.  Melanoma arises from melanocytes, which produce the melanin pigments that impart color to skin and are important in the tanning response.  Mutations in the Ras/ERK signaling pathway are involved in converting normal melanocytes into melanomas.  In particular, mutations that overactive the BRAF serine/threonine kinase, a downstream effector of Ras signaling, are found in 60-70% of all melanomas.  These mutations are also present in benign melanocytic nevi - more commonly referred to as moles - indicating that other genetic alterations cooperate with oncogenic BRAF to generate melanomas.  We aim to identify these alterations and study how they cooperate with oncogenic BRAF to promote melanoma.

    Zebrafish Model


    We primarily utilize a zebrafish model of melanoma. Zebrafish melanocytes are externally visible, and single cells can be visualized in a living animal.  Together with a p53 mutation, human oncogenic BRAF can induce melanoma formation in zebrafish.  We developed a high-throughput method to express candidate oncogenes in zebrafish melanocytes (see figure below) and have tested whether genes that are recurrently amplified and overexpressed in human melanomas can accelerate tumor formation.  In these studies, we identified the SETDB1 histone methyltransferase as a new melanoma oncogene, highlighting the role of chromatin methylation and dysregulated transcription in tumorigenesis.  We are currently assessing additional candidates, including copy number altered genes and melanocyte lineage factors, for roles in melanoma.  In addition, we are probing how different cell subpopulations within a tumor are involved in its maintenance.  Ultimately our goal is to identify genes and cells that may serve as diagnostic and prognostic markers of disease as well as therapeutic targets. 


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    A postdoc position is available to study in Dr. Ceol's lab.Click here to apply.

    Collapse Bibliographic 
    Collapse selected publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
    Newest   |   Oldest   |   Most Cited   |   Most Discussed   |   Timeline   |   Field Summary   |   Plain Text
    PMC Citations indicate the number of times the publication was cited by articles in PubMed Central, and the Altmetric score represents citations in news articles and social media. (Note that publications are often cited in additional ways that are not shown here.) Fields are based on how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) classifies the publication's journal and might not represent the specific topic of the publication. Translation tags are based on the publication type and the MeSH terms NLM assigns to the publication. Some publications (especially newer ones and publications not in PubMed) might not yet be assigned Field or Translation tags.) Click a Field or Translation tag to filter the publications.
    1. Qin X, Lam A, Zhang X, Sengupta S, Iorgulescu JB, Ni H, Das S, Rager M, Zhou Z, Zuo T, Meara GK, Floru AE, Kemet C, Veerapaneni D, Kashy D, Lin L, Lloyd K, Kwok L, Smith KS, Nagaraju RT, Meijers R, Ceol C, Liu CT, Alexandrescu S, Wu CJ, Keskin DB, George RE, Feng H. CKLF instigates a "cold" microenvironment to promote MYCN-mediated tumor aggressiveness. Sci Adv. 2024 Mar 15; 10(11):eadh9547. PMID: 38489372.
    2. Smith AO, Frantz WT, Preval KM, Edwards YJK, Ceol CJ, Jonassen JA, Pazour GJ. The Tumor-Associated Calcium Signal Transducer 2 (TACSTD2) oncogene is upregulated in pre-cystic epithelial cells revealing a new target for polycystic kidney disease. medRxiv. 2023 Dec 04. PMID: 38106222.
    3. Ceol CJ. Microenvironmental GABA Signaling Regulates Melanomagenesis through Reciprocal Melanoma-Keratinocyte Communication. Cancer Discov. 2023 10 05; 13(10):2128-2130. PMID: 37794841.
      Citations:    Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    4. Frantz WT, Iyengar S, Neiswender J, Cousineau A, Maehr R, Ceol CJ. Pigment cell progenitor heterogeneity and reiteration of developmental signaling underlie melanocyte regeneration in zebrafish. Elife. 2023 04 06; 12. PMID: 37021774.
      Citations:    Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    5. Darp R, Vittoria MA, Ganem NJ, Ceol CJ. Oncogenic BRAF induces whole-genome doubling through suppression of cytokinesis. Nat Commun. 2022 07 15; 13(1):4109. PMID: 35840569.
      Citations: 5     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    6. Vittoria MA, Kingston N, Kotynkova K, Xia E, Hong R, Huang L, McDonald S, Tilston-Lunel A, Darp R, Campbell JD, Lang D, Xu X, Ceol CJ, Varelas X, Ganem NJ. Inactivation of the Hippo tumor suppressor pathway promotes melanoma. Nat Commun. 2022 06 29; 13(1):3732. PMID: 35768444.
      Citations: 8     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    7. Wilcock DJ, Badrock AP, Wong CW, Owen R, Guerin M, Southam AD, Johnston H, Telfer BA, Fullwood P, Watson J, Ferguson H, Ferguson J, Lloyd GR, Jankevics A, Dunn WB, Wellbrock C, Lorigan P, Ceol C, Francavilla C, Smith MP, Hurlstone AFL. Oxidative stress from DGAT1 oncoprotein inhibition in melanoma suppresses tumor growth when ROS defenses are also breached. Cell Rep. 2022 06 21; 39(12):110995. PMID: 35732120.
      Citations: 9     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    8. Frantz WT, Ceol CJ. Research Techniques Made Simple: Zebrafish Models for Human Dermatologic Disease. J Invest Dermatol. 2022 03; 142(3 Pt A):499-506.e1. PMID: 35184798.
      Citations:    Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimals
    9. Frantz WT, Ceol CJ. Working together: Heterotypic clusters and collective cell migration in melanoma metastasis. Dev Cell. 2021 10 25; 56(20):2783-2784. PMID: 34699785.
      Citations:    Fields:    Translation:Humans
    10. Gramann AK, Frantz WT, Dresser K, Gomes CBF, Lian CG, Deng A, Ceol CJ. BMP Signaling Promotes Neural Crest Identity and?Accelerates Melanoma Onset. J Invest Dermatol. 2021 08; 141(8):2067-2070.e1. PMID: 33610560.
      Citations: 4     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    11. Patton EE, Mueller KL, Adams DJ, Anandasabapathy N, Aplin AE, Bertolotto C, Bosenberg M, Ceol CJ, Burd CE, Chi P, Herlyn M, Holmen SL, Karreth FA, Kaufman CK, Khan S, Kobold S, Leucci E, Levy C, Lombard DB, Lund AW, Marie KL, Marine JC, Marais R, McMahon M, Robles-Espinoza CD, Ronai ZA, Samuels Y, Soengas MS, Villanueva J, Weeraratna AT, White RM, Yeh I, Zhu J, Zon LI, Hurlbert MS, Merlino G. Melanoma models for the next generation of therapies. Cancer Cell. 2021 05 10; 39(5):610-631. PMID: 33545064.
      Citations: 44     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimals
    12. Darp R, Ceol C. Making a melanoma: Molecular and cellular changes underlying melanoma initiation. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2021 03; 34(2):280-287. PMID: 33283422.
      Citations: 4     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    13. Iwanaga R, Truong BT, Hsu JY, Lambert KA, Vyas R, Orlicky D, Shellman YG, Tan AC, Ceol C, Artinger KB. Loss of prdm1a accelerates melanoma onset and progression. Mol Carcinog. 2020 09; 59(9):1052-1063. PMID: 32562448.
      Citations: 5     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    14. Frantz WT, Ceol CJ. From Tank to Treatment: Modeling Melanoma in Zebrafish. Cells. 2020 05 22; 9(5). PMID: 32455885.
      Citations: 11     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    15. Gramann AK, Venkatesan AM, Guerin M, Ceol CJ. Regulation of zebrafish melanocyte development by ligand-dependent BMP signaling. Elife. 2019 12 23; 8. PMID: 31868592.
      Citations: 10     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    16. Venkatesan AM, Vyas R, Gramann AK, Dresser K, Gujja S, Bhatnagar S, Chhangawala S, Gomes CBF, Xi HS, Lian CG, Houvras Y, Edwards YJK, Deng A, Green M, Ceol CJ. Ligand-activated BMP signaling inhibits cell differentiation and death to promote melanoma. J Clin Invest. 2018 01 02; 128(1):294-308. PMID: 29202482.
      Citations: 27     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    17. Kasheta M, Painter CA, Moore FE, Lobbardi R, Bryll A, Freiman E, Stachura D, Rogers AB, Houvras Y, Langenau DM, Ceol CJ. Identification and characterization of T reg-like cells in zebrafish. J Exp Med. 2017 Dec 04; 214(12):3519-3530. PMID: 29066577.
      Citations: 29     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    18. Neto A, Ceol CJ. Melanoma-associated GRM3 variants dysregulate melanosome trafficking and cAMP signaling. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2018 01; 31(1):115-119. PMID: 28646617.
      Citations: 7     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    19. Darp R, Ceol C. Chromatin modification: A novel insight into BRAF-independent spontaneous melanoma. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2018 01; 31(1):9-10. PMID: 28971591.
      Citations:    Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    20. Neiswender JV, Kortum RL, Bourque C, Kasheta M, Zon LI, Morrison DK, Ceol CJ. KIT Suppresses BRAFV600E-Mutant Melanoma by Attenuating Oncogenic RAS/MAPK Signaling. Cancer Res. 2017 11 01; 77(21):5820-5830. PMID: 28947418.
      Citations: 11     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    21. Tang Q, Iyer S, Lobbardi R, Moore JC, Chen H, Lareau C, Hebert C, Shaw ML, Neftel C, Suva ML, Ceol CJ, Bernards A, Aryee M, Pinello L, Drummond IA, Langenau DM. Dissecting hematopoietic and renal cell heterogeneity in adult zebrafish at single-cell resolution using RNA sequencing. J Exp Med. 2017 Oct 02; 214(10):2875-2887. PMID: 28878000.
      Citations: 84     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    22. Moore FE, Garcia EG, Lobbardi R, Jain E, Tang Q, Moore JC, Cortes M, Molodtsov A, Kasheta M, Luo CC, Garcia AJ, Mylvaganam R, Yoder JA, Blackburn JS, Sadreyev RI, Ceol CJ, North TE, Langenau DM. Single-cell transcriptional analysis of normal, aberrant, and malignant hematopoiesis in zebrafish. J Exp Med. 2016 05 30; 213(6):979-92. PMID: 27139488.
      Citations: 37     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    23. Wojciechowska S, van Rooijen E, Ceol C, Patton EE, White RM. Generation and analysis of zebrafish melanoma models. Methods Cell Biol. 2016; 134:531-49. PMID: 27312504.
      Citations: 8     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimals
    24. Wojciechowska S, Zeng Z, Lister JA, Ceol CJ, Patton EE. Melanoma Regression and Recurrence in Zebrafish. Methods Mol Biol. 2016; 1451:143-53. PMID: 27464806.
      Citations: 4     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimals
    25. Ceol CJ, Houvras Y. Uncharted Waters: Zebrafish Cancer Models Navigate a Course for Oncogene Discovery. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016; 916:3-19. PMID: 27165347.
      Citations: 2     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    26. Iyengar S, Kasheta M, Ceol CJ. Poised Regeneration of Zebrafish Melanocytes Involves Direct Differentiation and Concurrent Replenishment of Tissue-Resident Progenitor Cells. Dev Cell. 2015 Jun 22; 33(6):631-43. PMID: 26073020.
      Citations: 9     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    27. Painter CA, Ceol CJ. Zebrafish as a platform to study tumor progression. Methods Mol Biol. 2014; 1176:143-55. PMID: 25030925.
      Citations: 8     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    28. Iyengar S, Houvras Y, Ceol CJ. Screening for melanoma modifiers using a zebrafish autochthonous tumor model. J Vis Exp. 2012 Nov 13; (69):e50086. PMID: 23183931.
      Citations: 17     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    29. Lian CG, Xu Y, Ceol C, Wu F, Larson A, Dresser K, Xu W, Tan L, Hu Y, Zhan Q, Lee CW, Hu D, Lian BQ, Kleffel S, Yang Y, Neiswender J, Khorasani AJ, Fang R, Lezcano C, Duncan LM, Scolyer RA, Thompson JF, Kakavand H, Houvras Y, Zon LI, Mihm MC, Kaiser UB, Schatton T, Woda BA, Murphy GF, Shi YG. Loss of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine is an epigenetic hallmark of melanoma. Cell. 2012 Sep 14; 150(6):1135-46. PMID: 22980977.
      Citations: 378     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    30. Richardson J, Zeng Z, Ceol C, Mione M, Jackson IJ, Patton EE. A zebrafish model for nevus regeneration. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2011 Apr; 24(2):378-81. PMID: 21324102.
      Citations: 4     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimals
    31. Ceol CJ, Houvras Y, Jane-Valbuena J, Bilodeau S, Orlando DA, Battisti V, Fritsch L, Lin WM, Hollmann TJ, Ferr? F, Bourque C, Burke CJ, Turner L, Uong A, Johnson LA, Beroukhim R, Mermel CH, Loda M, Ait-Si-Ali S, Garraway LA, Young RA, Zon LI. The histone methyltransferase SETDB1 is recurrently amplified in melanoma and accelerates its onset. Nature. 2011 Mar 24; 471(7339):513-7. PMID: 21430779.
      Citations: 285     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    32. North TE, Goessling W, Peeters M, Li P, Ceol C, Lord AM, Weber GJ, Harris J, Cutting CC, Huang P, Dzierzak E, Zon LI. Hematopoietic stem cell development is dependent on blood flow. Cell. 2009 May 15; 137(4):736-48. PMID: 19450519.
      Citations: 223     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    33. Freeman JL, Ceol C, Feng H, Langenau DM, Belair C, Stern HM, Song A, Paw BH, Look AT, Zhou Y, Zon LI, Lee C. Construction and application of a zebrafish array comparative genomic hybridization platform. Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2009 Feb; 48(2):155-70. PMID: 18973135.
      Citations: 9     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    34. Ceol CJ, Houvras Y, White RM, Zon LI. Melanoma biology and the promise of zebrafish. Zebrafish. 2008 Dec; 5(4):247-55. PMID: 19133823.
      Citations: 22     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    35. Goessling W, North TE, Lord AM, Ceol C, Lee S, Weidinger G, Bourque C, Strijbosch R, Haramis AP, Puder M, Clevers H, Moon RT, Zon LI. APC mutant zebrafish uncover a changing temporal requirement for wnt signaling in liver development. Dev Biol. 2008 Aug 01; 320(1):161-74. PMID: 18585699.
      Citations: 105     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    36. Langenau DM, Keefe MD, Storer NY, Jette CA, Smith AC, Ceol CJ, Bourque C, Look AT, Zon LI. Co-injection strategies to modify radiation sensitivity and tumor initiation in transgenic Zebrafish. Oncogene. 2008 Jul 10; 27(30):4242-8. PMID: 18345029.
      Citations: 50     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    37. White RM, Sessa A, Burke C, Bowman T, LeBlanc J, Ceol C, Bourque C, Dovey M, Goessling W, Burns CE, Zon LI. Transparent adult zebrafish as a tool for in vivo transplantation analysis. Cell Stem Cell. 2008 Feb 07; 2(2):183-9. PMID: 18371439.
      Citations: 594     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    38. Ceol CJ, Pellman D, Zon LI. APC and colon cancer: two hits for one. Nat Med. 2007 Nov; 13(11):1286-7. PMID: 17987022.
      Citations: 8     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimals
    39. Harrison MM, Ceol CJ, Lu X, Horvitz HR. Some C. elegans class B synthetic multivulva proteins encode a conserved LIN-35 Rb-containing complex distinct from a NuRD-like complex. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Nov 07; 103(45):16782-7. PMID: 17075059.
      Citations: 81     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    40. Ceol CJ, Stegmeier F, Harrison MM, Horvitz HR. Identification and classification of genes that act antagonistically to let-60 Ras signaling in Caenorhabditis elegans vulval development. Genetics. 2006 Jun; 173(2):709-26. PMID: 16624904.
      Citations: 30     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    41. Ceol CJ, Horvitz HR. A new class of C. elegans synMuv genes implicates a Tip60/NuA4-like HAT complex as a negative regulator of Ras signaling. Dev Cell. 2004 Apr; 6(4):563-76. PMID: 15068795.
      Citations: 59     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    42. Thomas JH, Ceol CJ, Schwartz HT, Horvitz HR. New genes that interact with lin-35 Rb to negatively regulate the let-60 ras pathway in Caenorhabditis elegans. Genetics. 2003 May; 164(1):135-51. PMID: 12750327.
      Citations: 27     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    43. Ceol CJ, Horvitz HR. dpl-1 DP and efl-1 E2F act with lin-35 Rb to antagonize Ras signaling in C. elegans vulval development. Mol Cell. 2001 Mar; 7(3):461-73. PMID: 11463372.
      Citations: 75     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
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