Rodrigo Aguilar, Ph.D.


Investigación busca aliviar enfermedades y varios cánceres | ICB UNAB

Dr. Rodrigo Aguilar is a biochemist and a PhD in Molecular Biosciences. He completed his PhD under supervision of Dr. Martin Montecino at Universidad Andres Bello (UNAB), graduating in 2015. In 2016, he joined the Jeannie Lee lab at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School as a postdoctoral research fellow. His postdoctoral training was funded by the Pew Latin American Fellows Program in the Biomedical Sciences and by an award by the MGH Executive Committee on Research. There, he trained in epigenetic control of gene expressionin the X chromosome by long non-coding RNAs and participated in a drug discovery program targeting RNAs, the latter in collaboration with the pharmaceutical company Merck

Research Description

Long non-coding RNAs are >200-nucleotide transcripts that are not translated. Long believed to be junk molecules, we currently know that they perform a variety of function within the nucleus, including the recruitment of epigenetic enzymes that otherwise wouldn’t recognize specific regions within the DNA. We are currently studying Malat1, one of the most up-regulated long non-coding RNA in cancer and a putative interactor of PRC2, a complex that through histone modification, represses important developmental and cell cycle-related genes. We aim to understand how Malat1 control transcription in disease cells together with PRC2 using molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry, genome-wide sequencing, and bioinformatics.

Key Publications

Aguilar, R., Bustos, F.J., Nardocci, G., van Zundert, B., Montecino, M. (2021) EPIGENETIC SILENCING OF THE OSTEOBLAST-LINEAGE GENE PROGRAM DURING HIPPOCAMPAL MATURATION. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry. 122(3-4):367-384. doi: 10.1002/jcb.29865

Rizvi, N.F*. Santa Maria Jr., J.P.*, Nahvi, A., Klappenbach, J.,Klein, D.J.,Curran P.J., Richards, M.P., Chamberlin, C., Saradjian, P., Burchard, J., Aguilar, R., Lee, J.T., Dandliker, P.J., Smith, G.F., Kutchukian, P.ŧ, Nickbarg, E.B.ŧ (2020) TARGETING RNA WITH SMALL MOLECULES: IDENTIFICATION OF SELECTIVE, RNA-BINDING SMALL MOLECULES OCCUPYING DRUG-LIKE CHEMICAL SPACE. SLAS Discovery, 25(4):384-396. doi: 10.1177/2472555219885373

Bustos, F.J., Ampuero, E., Jury, N., Aguilar, R., Falahi, F., Toledo, J., Ahumada, J., Lata, J., Cubillos, P., Henríquez, B., Guerra, M.V., Stehberg, J., Neve, R.L., Inestrosa, N.C., Wyneken, U., Fuenzalida, M., Härtel, S., Sena-Esteves, M., Varela-Nallar, L., Rots, M.G., Montecino, M., van Zundert, B. (2017) EPIGENETIC EDITING OF THE DLG4/PSD95 GENE IMPROVES COGNITION IN AGED AND ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE MICE. Brain. 140(12):3252-3268, doi: 10.1093/brain/awx272

Sepulveda, H.*, Aguilar, R.*, Prieto, C.P., Bustos, F., Aedo, S., Lattus, J., van Zundert, B., Palma, V., Montecino, M. (2017) EPIGENETIC SIGNATURES AT THE RUNX2-P1 AND SP7 GENE PROMOTERS CONTROL OSTEOGENIC LINEAGE COMMITMENT OF UMBILICAL CORD-DERIVED MESENCHYMAL STEM CELLS. Journal of Cellular Physiology. 232: 2519–2527, doi: 10.1002/jcp.25627

Aguilar, R., Bustos, F.J., Saez, M., Rojas, A., Allende, M., van Wijnen, A., van Zundert, B., Montecino, M. (2016) POLYCOMB PRC2 COMPLEX MEDIATES EPIGENETIC SILENCING OF A CRITICAL OSTEOGENIC MASTER REGULATOR IN THE HIPPOCAMPUS. Biochimica et Biophisica Acta – Gene regulatory mechanisms 1859(8): 1043-1055. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2016.05.009