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Lucio H Castilla PhD

InstitutionUMass Chan Medical School
DepartmentMolecular, Cell and Cancer Biology
AddressUMass Chan Medical School
364 Plantation Street LRB-622
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
    DepartmentPostbaccalaureate Research Education Program

    Collapse Biography 
    Collapse education and training
    University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, BA, ArgentinaMSGenetics
    University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI, United StatesPHDGenetics

    Collapse Overview 
    Collapse overview


    Academic Background

    Lucio Castilla received his B. S. from the University of Buenos Aires in 1988, and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1995. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the National Human Genome Research Institute, at the National Institutes of Health, from 1995 to 2000. He joined the University of Massachusetts Medical School, in the Program of Gene Function and Expression, as an Assistant Professor in 2000. He is the recipient of a Special Fellow Award from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (1999) and an AACR-Sidney Kimmel Symposium for Cancer Research Scholar Award (2002). Dr. Castilla is a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Scholar (2007-2012).

    Genetics of Leukemia, Mouse Models

    The goal of our laboratory is to understand the molecular mechanisms of leukemia development. Leukemia arises from the abnormal expansion of hematopoietic stem cells that have acquired multiple genetic alterations that block differentiation programs and provide proliferation and survival capacity. The dimeric transcription factor “core-binding-factor” (CBF) is a master regulator of gene expression during development and differentiation. Genetic alterations in either CBF subunit, RUNX1 or CBFß, have been associated with human leukemia. For example, acute myeloid leukemia (AML) samples with chromosome 16 inversion express the fusion gene CBFB-MYH11. We and others have shown that Cbfb-MYH11 expression hinders multi-lineage differentiation. We have recently used a conditional Cbfb-MYH11 knock-in mouse model to show that the fusion gene also creates an abnormal myeloid progenitor that progress to AML upon the accumulation of cooperating mutations that provide proliferation and/or survival advantage (see Figure).

    One line of our research uses conditional knock-in and knock-out strategies to better understand the role of CBF factors in hematopoietic stem cells and the alterations induced by Cbfb-MYH11 expression in this compartment as well as during multi-lineage differentiation. Second, we are characterizing the contribution of other de-regulated genes that collaborate with Cbfb-MYH11 in leukemogenesis. We use retroviral insertional mutagenesis in mice expressing Cbfb-MYH11 to identify candidate cooperating genes. We are particularly interested on one of these factors, the pleomorphic adenoma like-2 gene (PlagL2), and are studying its role in normal and malignant hematopoiesis. Third, the leukemic cells are a heterogeneous group of cells at different stages of differentiation. Few of these cells, called leukemia-initiating cells, hold the capacity to expand indefinitely and recreate the disease. We focus part of our efforts on characterizing the CBF leukemia-initiating cells, with the goal of identifying small molecules that inhibit Cbfb-MYH11 function and may be used in the design of improved therapy.


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    Potential Rotation Projects


    1. Role of core binding factors on hematopoietic stem cell function and survival. We use molecular pharmacologic and functional approaches to study the role of the RUNX factors in self renewal and proliferation of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, using genetically modified mice and human progenitor cells.


    2. Study the molecular mechanism of leukemia initiation and maintenance. Transcription factors and components of cytokine signaling are frequently mutated in human cancer, including leukemia. These mutations deregulate the proliferation, differentiation and survival of hematopoietic stem cells. We study the role of members of RUNX and RAS protein families in the function of hematopoietic stem cell function, pre-leukemic progenitors, and leukemia-initiating cells.


    3. Translational research: Recent evidence suggests that inhibition of pathways activated by gene mutations can be used to eliminate leukemia cells, and not affecting normal cells. We use small molecule inhibitors of leukemia oncogenes to test whether repression of activated pathways hinder survival of leukemia initiating cells, and eliminate leukemia. We use a combination of mouse models and human leukemia cells to test the efficacy, specificity and toxicity of candidate inhibitors, as single agents or in combination with first line leukemia drugs.

    Collapse Post Docs

    The Castilla laboratory is accepting applications for postdoctoral positions. The candidates should be close to or have recently graduated with a Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. degree (within 1 year) in the fields of Cancer Biology, Genetics, Biochemistry, Cell Biology or related field. The candidates must also have a proven track record of productivity and research experience. Previous experience using immunocompromised and transgenic mice, in vitro and in vivo assays with small molecules or nanoparticles, or hematopoietic stem cells is preferred.

    We are looking for highly motivated candidates with excellent communication skills, and able to work independently and in cooperation with other members of the laboratory.

    Applicants should send their CV, a cover letter summarizing background and research interests, and three letters of references by electronic mail to:

    Dr. Lucio H. Castilla, Associate Professor

    University of Massachusetts Medical School



    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. Roderick-Richardson JE, Lim SE, Suzuki S, Ahmad MH, Selway J, Suleiman R, Karna K, Lehman J, O'Donnell J, Castilla LH, Maelfait J, Rehwinkel J, Kelliher MA. ZBP1 activation triggers hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell death resulting in bone marrow failure in mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2024 Jan 23; 121(4):e2309628121. PMID: 38227660.
      Citations:    Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    2. Ahmad MH, Hegde M, Wong WJ, Mohammadhosseini M, Garrett L, Carrascoso A, Issac N, Ebert B, Silva JC, Pihan G, Zhu LJ, Wolfe SA, Agarwal A, Liu PP, Castilla LH. Runx1-R188Q germ line mutation induces inflammation and predisposition to hematologic malignancies in mice. Blood Adv. 2023 12 12; 7(23):7304-7318. PMID: 37756546.
      Citations:    Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimals
    3. Zezulin AU, Yen D, Ye D, Howell ED, Bresciani E, Diemer J, Ren JG, Ahmad MH, Castilla LH, Touw IP, Minn AJ, Tong W, Liu PP, Tan K, Yu W, Speck NA. RUNX1 is required in granulocyte-monocyte progenitors to attenuate inflammatory cytokine production by neutrophils. Genes Dev. 2023 07 01; 37(13-14):605-620. PMID: 37536952.
      Citations: 1     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    4. Zezulin AU, Ye D, Howell E, Yen D, Bresciani E, Diemer J, Ren JG, Ahmad MH, Castilla LH, Touw IP, Minn AJ, Tong W, Liu PP, Tan K, Yu W, Speck NA. RUNX1 is required in granulocyte-monocyte progenitors to attenuate inflammatory cytokine production by neutrophils. bioRxiv. 2023 Jan 28. PMID: 36747636.
    5. Carrillo P, Bernal M, T?llez-Quijorna C, Marrero AD, Vidal I, Castilla L, Caro C, Dom?nguez A, Garc?a-Mart?n ML, Quesada AR, Medina MA, Mart?nez-Poveda B. The synthetic molecule stauprimide impairs cell growth and migration in triple-negative breast cancer. Biomed Pharmacother. 2022 Dec 14; 114070. PMID: 36526536.
      Citations:    Fields:    
    6. van der Kouwe E, Heller G, Czibere A, Pulikkan JA, Agreiter C, Castilla LH, Delwel R, Di Ruscio A, Ebralidze AK, Forte M, Grebien F, Heyes E, Kazianka L, Klinger J, Kornauth C, Le T, Lind K, Barbosa IAM, Pemovska T, Pichler A, Schmolke AS, Schweicker CM, Sill H, Sperr WR, Spittler A, Surapally S, Trinh BQ, Valent P, Vanura K, Welner RS, Zuber J, Tenen DG, Staber PB. Core-binding factor leukemia hijacks the T-cell-prone PU.1 antisense promoter. Blood. 2021 10 14; 138(15):1345-1358. PMID: 34010414.
      Citations: 5     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    7. Castilla LH. NRAS palmitoylation and oncogenic fitness. Blood. 2020 05 14; 135(20):1725-1726. PMID: 32407527.
      Citations: 2     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    8. Pulikkan JA, Hegde M, Ahmad HM, Belaghzal H, Illendula A, Yu J, O'Hagan K, Ou J, Muller-Tidow C, Wolfe SA, Zhu LJ, Dekker J, Bushweller JH, Castilla LH. CBF?-SMMHC Inhibition Triggers Apoptosis by Disrupting MYC Chromatin Dynamics in Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Cell. 2018 08 23; 174(5):1325. PMID: 30142347.
      Citations: 10     Fields:    
    9. Pulikkan JA, Hegde M, Ahmad HM, Belaghzal H, Illendula A, Yu J, O'Hagan K, Ou J, Muller-Tidow C, Wolfe SA, Zhu LJ, Dekker J, Bushweller JH, Castilla LH. CBF?-SMMHC Inhibition Triggers Apoptosis by Disrupting MYC Chromatin Dynamics in Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Cell. 2018 06 28; 174(1):172-186.e21. PMID: 29958106.
      Citations: 35     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    10. Pulikkan JA, Castilla LH. Preleukemia and Leukemia-Initiating Cell Activity in inv(16) Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Front Oncol. 2018; 8:129. PMID: 29755956.
    11. Ou J, Liu H, Yu J, Kelliher MA, Castilla LH, Lawson ND, Zhu LJ. ATACseqQC: a Bioconductor package for post-alignment quality assessment of ATAC-seq data. BMC Genomics. 2018 03 01; 19(1):169. PMID: 29490630.
      Citations: 91     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    12. Illendula A, Gilmour J, Grembecka J, Tirumala VSS, Boulton A, Kuntimaddi A, Schmidt C, Wang L, Pulikkan JA, Zong H, Parlak M, Kuscu C, Pickin A, Zhou Y, Gao Y, Mishra L, Adli M, Castilla LH, Rajewski RA, Janes KA, Guzman ML, Bonifer C, Bushweller JH. Corrigendum to: "Small Molecule Inhibitor of CBF?-RUNX Binding for RUNX Transcription Factor Driven Cancers" [EBioMedicine 8 (2016) 117-131]. EBioMedicine. 2017 11; 25:188. PMID: 29104075.
      Citations:    Fields:    
    13. Choi A, Illendula A, Pulikkan JA, Roderick JE, Tesell J, Yu J, Hermance N, Zhu LJ, Castilla LH, Bushweller JH, Kelliher MA. RUNX1 is required for oncogenic Myb and Myc enhancer activity in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Blood. 2017 10 12; 130(15):1722-1733. PMID: 28790107.
      Citations: 37     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    14. Castilla LH, Bushweller JH. Molecular Basis and Targeted Inhibition of CBF?-SMMHC Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2017; 962:229-244. PMID: 28299661.
      Citations: 2     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimals
    15. Illendula A, Gilmour J, Grembecka J, Tirumala VSS, Boulton A, Kuntimaddi A, Schmidt C, Wang L, Pulikkan JA, Zong H, Parlak M, Kuscu C, Pickin A, Zhou Y, Gao Y, Mishra L, Adli M, Castilla LH, Rajewski RA, Janes KA, Guzman ML, Bonifer C, Bushweller JH. Small Molecule Inhibitor of CBF?-RUNX Binding for RUNX Transcription Factor Driven Cancers. EBioMedicine. 2016 Jun; 8:117-131. PMID: 27428424.
      Citations: 44     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    16. Recouvreux MS, Grasso EN, Echeverria PC, Rocha-Viegas L, Castilla LH, Schere-Levy C, Tocci JM, Kordon EC, Rubinstein N. RUNX1 and FOXP3 interplay regulates expression of breast cancer related genes. Oncotarget. 2016 Feb 09; 7(6):6552-65. PMID: 26735887.
      Citations: 22     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    17. Illendula A, Pulikkan JA, Zong H, Grembecka J, Xue L, Sen S, Zhou Y, Boulton A, Kuntimaddi A, Gao Y, Rajewski RA, Guzman ML, Castilla LH, Bushweller JH. Chemical biology. A small-molecule inhibitor of the aberrant transcription factor CBF?-SMMHC delays leukemia in mice. Science. 2015 Feb 13; 347(6223):779-84. PMID: 25678665.
      Citations: 60     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    18. Xue L, Pulikkan JA, Valk PJ, Castilla LH. NrasG12D oncoprotein inhibits apoptosis of preleukemic cells expressing Cbf?-SMMHC via activation of MEK/ERK axis. Blood. 2014 Jul 17; 124(3):426-36. PMID: 24894773.
      Citations: 17     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    19. Pulikkan JA, Madera D, Xue L, Bradley P, Landrette SF, Kuo YH, Abbas S, Zhu LJ, Valk P, Castilla LH. Thrombopoietin/MPL participates in initiating and maintaining RUNX1-ETO acute myeloid leukemia via PI3K/AKT signaling. Blood. 2012 Jul 26; 120(4):868-79. PMID: 22613795.
      Citations: 24     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    20. Landrette SF, Madera D, He F, Castilla LH. The transcription factor PlagL2 activates Mpl transcription and signaling in hematopoietic progenitor and leukemia cells. Leukemia. 2011 Apr; 25(4):655-62. PMID: 21263445.
      Citations: 20     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    21. Kuo YH, Zaidi SK, Gornostaeva S, Komori T, Stein GS, Castilla LH. Runx2 induces acute myeloid leukemia in cooperation with Cbfbeta-SMMHC in mice. Blood. 2009 Apr 02; 113(14):3323-32. PMID: 19179305.
      Citations: 46     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    22. Castilla LH. C/EBPalpha in leukemogenesis: a matter of being in the right place with the right signals. Cancer Cell. 2008 Apr; 13(4):289-91. PMID: 18394549.
      Citations: 6     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    23. Kuo YH, Gerstein RM, Castilla LH. Cbfbeta-SMMHC impairs differentiation of common lymphoid progenitors and reveals an essential role for RUNX in early B-cell development. Blood. 2008 Feb 01; 111(3):1543-51. PMID: 17940206.
      Citations: 18     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    24. Heilman SA, Kuo YH, Goudswaard CS, Valk PJ, Castilla LH. Cbfbeta reduces Cbfbeta-SMMHC-associated acute myeloid leukemia in mice. Cancer Res. 2006 Dec 01; 66(23):11214-8. PMID: 17145866.
      Citations: 6     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    25. Kuo YH, Landrette SF, Heilman SA, Perrat PN, Garrett L, Liu PP, Le Beau MM, Kogan SC, Castilla LH. Cbf beta-SMMHC induces distinct abnormal myeloid progenitors able to develop acute myeloid leukemia. Cancer Cell. 2006 Jan; 9(1):57-68. PMID: 16413472.
      Citations: 76     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    26. Landrette SF, Kuo YH, Hensen K, Barjesteh van Waalwijk van Doorn-Khosrovani S, Perrat PN, Van de Ven WJ, Delwel R, Castilla LH. Plag1 and Plagl2 are oncogenes that induce acute myeloid leukemia in cooperation with Cbfb-MYH11. Blood. 2005 Apr 01; 105(7):2900-7. PMID: 15585652.
      Citations: 55     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    27. Castilla LH, Perrat P, Martinez NJ, Landrette SF, Keys R, Oikemus S, Flanegan J, Heilman S, Garrett L, Dutra A, Anderson S, Pihan GA, Wolff L, Liu PP. Identification of genes that synergize with Cbfb-MYH11 in the pathogenesis of acute myeloid leukemia. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Apr 06; 101(14):4924-9. PMID: 15044690.
      Citations: 45     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    28. Adya N, Castilla LH, Liu PP. Function of CBFbeta/Bro proteins. Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2000 Oct; 11(5):361-8. PMID: 11105900.
      Citations: 25     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    29. Castilla LH, Garrett L, Adya N, Orlic D, Dutra A, Anderson S, Owens J, Eckhaus M, Bodine D, Liu PP. The fusion gene Cbfb-MYH11 blocks myeloid differentiation and predisposes mice to acute myelomonocytic leukaemia. Nat Genet. 1999 Oct; 23(2):144-6. PMID: 10508507.
      Citations: 81     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    30. Yang X, Castilla LH, Xu X, Li C, Gotay J, Weinstein M, Liu PP, Deng CX. Angiogenesis defects and mesenchymal apoptosis in mice lacking SMAD5. Development. 1999 Apr; 126(8):1571-80. PMID: 10079220.
      Citations: 105     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    31. Yamanaka R, Barlow C, Lekstrom-Himes J, Castilla LH, Liu PP, Eckhaus M, Decker T, Wynshaw-Boris A, Xanthopoulos KG. Impaired granulopoiesis, myelodysplasia, and early lethality in CCAAT/enhancer binding protein epsilon-deficient mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Nov 25; 94(24):13187-92. PMID: 9371821.
      Citations: 125     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    32. Castilla LH, Wijmenga C, Wang Q, Stacy T, Speck NA, Eckhaus M, Mar?n-Padilla M, Collins FS, Wynshaw-Boris A, Liu PP. Failure of embryonic hematopoiesis and lethal hemorrhages in mouse embryos heterozygous for a knocked-in leukemia gene CBFB-MYH11. Cell. 1996 Nov 15; 87(4):687-96. PMID: 8929537.
      Citations: 79     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    33. Abel KJ, Brody LC, Valdes JM, Erdos MR, McKinley DR, Castilla LH, Merajver SD, Couch FJ, Friedman LS, Ostermeyer EA, Lynch ED, King MC, Welcsh PL, Osborne-Lawrence S, Spillman M, Bowcock AM, Collins FS, Weber BL. Characterization of EZH1, a human homolog of Drosophila Enhancer of zeste near BRCA1. Genomics. 1996 Oct 15; 37(2):161-71. PMID: 8921387.
      Citations: 19     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    34. Brody LC, Abel KJ, Castilla LH, Couch FJ, McKinley DR, Yin G, Ho PP, Merajver S, Chandrasekharappa SC, Xu J, et al. Construction of a transcription map surrounding the BRCA1 locus of human chromosome 17. Genomics. 1995 Jan 01; 25(1):238-47. PMID: 7774924.
      Citations: 9     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    35. Couch FJ, Castilla LH, Xu J, Abel KJ, Welcsh P, King SE, Wong L, Ho PP, Merajver S, Brody LC, et al. A YAC-, P1-, and cosmid-based physical map of the BRCA1 region on chromosome 17q21. Genomics. 1995 Jan 01; 25(1):264-73. PMID: 7774927.
      Citations: 2     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    36. Castilla LH, Couch FJ, Erdos MR, Hoskins KF, Calzone K, Garber JE, Boyd J, Lubin MB, Deshano ML, Brody LC, et al. Mutations in the BRCA1 gene in families with early-onset breast and ovarian cancer. Nat Genet. 1994 Dec; 8(4):387-91. PMID: 7894491.
      Citations: 93     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    37. Couch FJ, Kiousis S, Castilla LH, Xu J, Chandrasekharappa SC, Chamberlain JS, Collins FS, Weber BL. Characterization of 10 new polymorphic dinucleotide repeats and generation of a high-density microsatellite-based physical map of the BRCA1 region of chromosome 17q21. Genomics. 1994 Dec; 24(3):419-24. PMID: 7713491.
      Citations: 3     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    38. Weber BL, Abel KJ, Couch FJ, Merajver SD, Chandrasekharappa SC, Castilla L, McKinley D, Ho PP, Calzone K, Frank TS, et al. Progress toward isolation of a breast cancer susceptibility gene, BRCA1. Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol. 1994; 59:531-6. PMID: 7587109.
      Citations: 1     Fields:    Translation:Humans
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