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breast cancer

stem cells


After receiving my Bachelor degrees in Biology and Biochemistry from the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB) (Spain), I moved to Barcelona, where I studied the metabolism of ketone bodies. I obtained my Ph.D. Degree in Biomedical Science from the University of Barcelona in November 2008.

Following the completion of my Ph.D., I joined the Department of Gene and Cell Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York as my first postdoctoral position to investigate the molecular basis of hematopoietic stem cell maintenance. In 2010, I performed a second postdoc at the laboratory of Dr. Martin J. Walsh at the same institution where I focused on the function of the oncogenic transcription factor ZFP217 and PPARGC1A transcriptional co-activator in regulating embryonic stem cell self-renewal and energy metabolism, respectively, at the epitranscriptomic level. 

In October 2016, I was appointed as a researcher of the Wallenberg Center for Molecular Medicine (WCMM) and an Assistant Professor at the Department of Medical Biosciences at Umeå University (Sweden). Our main interest is to decipher novel epigenetic and epitranscriptomic mechanisms affecting global gene expression and their implication in cell fate and cancer initiation and progression with a focus on breast cancer. We aim to elucidate the function of RNA modification, specifically adenosine methylation, and their crosstalk with other epigenetic marks, using stem cells and breast cancer cells, as physiological and pathological models.


We combine classical biochemical methods with state-of-the-art genome-wide sequencing and proteomic techniques to interrogate the role of RNAs modifications and the interplay with other epigenetic marks in stem and cancer cells. Breast cancer, stem cell, induce pluripotency stem cells and hematopoietic stem cell cultures, patient samples and 3D culture models are also used to study the central RNA-based regulatory circuitry.


1. Malla S, Melguizo-Sanchis D, Aguilo F*  Steering pluripotency and differentiation with N6-methyladenosine RNA modification. Biochim Biophys Acta Gene Regul Mech, 2018 (In press). 

2. Achour C & Aguilo F*. Long non-coding RNA and Polycomb: an intricate partnership in cancer biology. Frontiers in Biosciences, 2018 (In press). 

3. Rengasamy M, Zhang F, Vashisht A, Song WM, Aguilo F, Sun Y, Li S, Zhang W, Zhang B, Wohlschlegel JA, Walsh MJ. The PRMT5/WDR77 complex regulates alternative splicing through ZNF326 in breast cancer. NAR. 2017;45(19):11106-11120. 

4. Aguilo F*, Walsh MJ*. The N6-Methyladenosine RNA modification in pluripotency and reprogramming. Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2017;46:77-82. 

5. Aguilo F*, Zakirova Z, Nolan K, Wagner R, Sharma R, Hogan M, Wei C, Sun Y, Walsh MJ, Kelley K, Zhang W, Ozelius LJ, Gonzalez-Alegre P, Zwaka TP, Ehrlich ME*. THAP1: Role in Mouse Embryonic Stem Cell Survival and Differentiation. Stem Cell Reports. 2017;9(1):92-107. 

6. Lee DF, Walsh MJ*, Aguilo F*. ZNF217/ZFP217 meets chromatin and RNA. Trends Biochem Sci. 2016 Dec;41(12):986-988. 

7. Di Cecilia S, Zhang F, Sancho A, Li S, Aguilo F, Sun Y, Rengasamy M, Zhang W, Del Vecchio L, Salvatore F, Walsh MJ. RBM5-AS1 is critical for self-renewal of colon cancer stem-like cells. Cancer Res. 2016;76(19):5615-27. 

8. Ren C, Smith SG, Yap KL, Li S, Li J, Mezei M, Vincek AS, Aguilo F, Walsh MJ, Zhou M-M. Structure-Guided Discovery of Selective Antagonists for the Chromodomain of Polycomb Repressive Protein CBX7. ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters. 2016;7(6):601-05. 

9. Aguilo F*, Li S*, Balasubramaniyan N*, Sancho A, Benko S, Zhang F, Vashisht A, Rengasamy M, Andino B, Chen CH, Zhou F, Qian C, Zhou M, Wohlschlegel JA, Zhang W, Suchy FJ, Walsh MJ. Epi-transcriptomic control of enhancer RNA function by PGC-1α. Cell Reports. 2016;14(3):479-92.  

10. Aguilo F*, Di Cecilia S*, Walsh MJ. Long non -coding RNA ANRIL and Polycomb in Human Cancers and Cardiovascular Disease. Curr Top in Microbiol and Immunol. 2016;394:29-39. 

11. Aguilo F*, Zhang F, Sancho A, Fidalgo M, Di Cecilia S, Vashisht A, Lee DF, Chen CH, Rengasamy M, Blanca Andino B, Farid Jahouh F, Angel Roman A, Krig SR, Wang R, Zhang W, Wohlschlegel JA, Wang J & Walsh MJ*. Coordination of m6A mRNA methylation and gene transcription by ZFP217 regulates pluripotency and reprogramming. Cell Stem Cell. 2015;17(6):689-704. 

12. Sancho A, Li S, Paul T, Zhang F, Aguilo F, Vashisht A, Balasubramaniyan N, Leleiko NS, Suchy FJ, Wohlschlegel JA, Zhang W, Walsh MJ. CHD6 regulates the topological arrangement of the CFTR locus. Hum Mol Genet. 2015; 24(10): 2724-32. 

13. Martin N*, Popov N*, Aguilo F, O’Loghlen A, Raguz S, Snijders AP, Dharmalingam G, Li S, Thymiakou E, Carroll T, Zeisig BB, So CW, Peters G, Episkopou V, Walsh MJ, Gil J. Interplay between Homeobox proteins and Polycomb repressive complexes in p16INK4a regulation. EMBO J. 2013; 32 (7):982-95. 

14. Lee DF*, Su J*, Ang YS, Carvajal-Vergara X, Mulero-Navarro S, Pereira CF, Wang HL, Zhao R, Gingold J, Williamson AJK, Sevilla A, Chang B, Niu X, Aguilo F, Flores ER, Sher YP, Hung MC, Whetton AD, Gelb BD, Moor KA, Snoeck HW, Ma’ayan A, Schaniel C, Lemischka IR. Regulation of Embryonic and Induced Pluripotency by Aurora Kinase-p53 Signaling. Cell Stem Cell. 2012;11(2):179-94. 

15. Aguilo F, Zhou MM, Walsh MJ. Long non-coding RNA, Polycomb and the ghosts haunting INK4B/ARF/INK4A expression. Cancer Res, 2011 Aug 15;71(16):5365-9.