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Enrique Torchia, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor


                                                                       

My overall research goal is to understand how mitotic regulation that helps to determine stem cell function in development and tissue homeostasis, is altered in proliferative diseases such as cancer. We have focused on the role of Aurora Kinase A (Aurora-A) in skin epithelial biology and in the development of high-risk cutaneous carcinomas. Aurora-A belongs to a conserved family of Serine/ Threonine kinases that has a fundamental role in mitosis.  It is frequently amplified or overexpressed in epithelial cancers including skin carcinomas.  Our previous work has shown that Aurora-A overexpression in combination with the activation of the Ras oncogene or gain-of-function p53 mutants can promote keratinocyte transformation, cancer associated genomic instability and metastasis. To explore Aurora-A’s function in skin homeostasis and the potential off-tumor effects from the use of its small molecule inhibitors, we have deleted Aurora-A in skin epithelia in animal models.  Adult skin appears to better tolerate the genetic ablation of Aurora-A unlike the highly proliferative embryonic skin or tumor cells, indicating that the targeting of abnormally proliferative keratinocytes using Aurora-A inhibitors may be safe and effective. Ongoing projects will address how Aurora-A activity or protein levels are altered in early cancerous lesions and how Aurora-A co-operates with other cancer promoting events in cancer progression and metastasis.  These studies will help us to evaluate therapies directed against mitotic regulators as a strategy to treat high-risk epithelial carcinomas.

    1. Torchia EC, Zhang L, Huebner AJ, Sen S, and DR Roop.  Aurora Kinase A deficiency during skin development impairs cell division and stratification. J Invest Derm 2013; 133(1): 78-86. 
    2. Torchia EC and DR Roop.  For skin cancer growth, look below: dermal UV damage and skin field cancerization.  Pigment Cell and Melanoma Res 2012; 25(8): 712-714
    3. Torchia EC, Caulin C, Acin S, Terzian T, Kubik B, Box NF and DR Roop.  The Myc and Aurora Kinase A pathways co-operate with the Gain of Function p53R172H mutant in malignant skin carcinoma. Oncogene 2012; 31(21): 2680-90.
    4. Jun D, Garat C, West J, Thorn N, Chow K, Cleaver T, Sullivan T, Childs C, Torchia EC, Shade T, Nozik-Grayck E, Malkoski S, Lara A, Klemm D, Rojas M, Wagner  DH and SM. Majka. Resident lung mesenchymal stem cells attenuate bleomycin induced pulmonary fibrosis via modulation of the T cell response.  Stem Cells. 2011; 29(4): 725-35
    5. Bilousova G, Jun DJ, King K, De Langhe S, Chick W S, Torchia EC, Chow K,  Klemm D, Roop DR and Susan M Majka.  Osteoblasts derived from Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells form Calcified Structures in Scaffolds both in vitro and in vivo.  Stem Cells.  2011; 29(2): 206-16
    6. Terzian T, Torchia EC, Robinson S, Murao K, Stiegmann R, Gonzalez V, Boyle G, Powell MB, Pollock P, Lozano G, Robinson W, Roop DR and NF Box.  p53 prevents progression of nevi to melanoma predominantly through cell cycle regulation.  Pigment Cell Melanoma Res 2010; 23: 517-20.
    7. Box NF, Torchia EC, DR Roop. Homing in on common stem cell niches from which skin cancers may arise.  Pigment Cell & Melanoma Res. 2010. 23:517-520
    8. Torchia EC, Chen Y, Sheng H, Katayama H, Fitzpatrick J, Brinkley WR, Caulin C, Sen S and DR Roop. A genetic variant of Aurora kinase A promotes genomic instability leading to highly malignant skin tumors. Cancer Res 2009; 69: 7207-15
    9. Torchia EC, Boyd K, Rehg J, Qu C and Baker SJ.  EWS/FLI-1 induces rapid onset of myeloid/erythroid leukemia in mice.  Mol Cell Biol 2007; 27: 7918-34
    10. Torchia EC, Jaishankar S, and Baker SJ.  Ewing tumor fusion proteins block the differentiation of pluripotent marrow stromal cells.  Cancer Res. 2003; 63: 3464-3468

Education

      Ph.D., University of Alberta/Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, (Biochemistry), 2001
      B.Sc., University of Alberta/Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Physiology ), Honors, 1992

Postdoctoral Training 

      Postdoctoral Fellow, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN (Cancer Biology), 2001-2007
      Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO, (Cancer Biology), 2007-2010
  1. Torchia EC, Zhang L, Huebner AJ, Sen S, and DR Roop.  Aurora Kinase A deficiency during skin development impairs cell division and stratification. J Invest Derm 2013; 133(1): 78-86. 
  2. Torchia EC and DR Roop.  For skin cancer growth, look below: dermal UV damage and skin field cancerization.  Pigment Cell and Melanoma Res 2012; 25(8): 712-714
  3. Torchia EC, Caulin C, Acin S, Terzian T, Kubik B, Box NF and DR Roop.  The Myc and Aurora Kinase A pathways co-operate with the Gain of Function p53R172H mutant in malignant skin carcinoma.  Oncogene 2012; 31(21): 2680-90.
  4. Jun D, Garat C, West J, Thorn N, Chow K, Cleaver T, Sullivan T, Childs C, Torchia EC, Shade T, Nozik-Grayck E, Malkoski S, Lara A, Klemm D, Rojas M, Wagner  DH and SM. Majka. Resident lung mesenchymal stem cells attenuate bleomycin induced pulmonary fibrosis via modulation of the T cell response.  Stem Cells. 2011; 29(4): 725-35
  5. Bilousova G, Jun DJ, King K, De Langhe S, Chick W S, Torchia EC, Chow K,  Klemm D, Roop DR and Susan M Majka.  Osteoblasts derived from Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells form Calcified Structures in Scaffolds both in vitro and in vivo.  Stem Cells.  2011; 29(2): 206-16
  6. Terzian T, Torchia EC, Robinson S, Murao K, Stiegmann R, Gonzalez V, Boyle G, Powell MB, Pollock P, Lozano G, Robinson W, Roop DR and NF Box.  p53 prevents progression of nevi to melanoma predominantly through cell cycle regulation.  Pigment Cell Melanoma Res 2010; 23: 517-20.
  7. Box NF, Torchia EC, DR Roop. Homing in on common stem cell niches from which skin cancers may arise.  Pigment Cell & Melanoma Res. 2010. 23:517-520
  8. Torchia EC, Chen Y, Sheng H, Katayama H, Fitzpatrick J, Brinkley WR, Caulin C, Sen S and DR Roop. A genetic variant of Aurora kinase A promotes genomic instability leading to highly malignant skin tumors. Cancer Res 2009; 69: 7207-15
  9. Torchia EC, Boyd K, Rehg J, Qu C and Baker SJ.  EWS/FLI-1 induces rapid onset of myeloid/erythroid leukemia in mice.  Mol Cell Biol 2007; 27: 7918-34
  10. Torchia EC, Jaishankar S, and Baker SJ.  Ewing tumor fusion proteins block the differentiation of pluripotent marrow stromal cells.  Cancer Res. 2003; 63: 3464-3468