Hilary Coller
Phone: 3108253483
Office: 5145 Terasaki Life Sciences
Lab: 5128 Terasaki Life Sciences


B.A., Harvard University, Biochemistry And Molecular Biology 1989
M.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Technology And Policy 1991
M.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Toxicology 1993
Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Toxicology 2014

Research Interests

Because uncontrolled cell division is so dangerous for an organism, cells must know not only when to divide, but also when not to. Cell division arrest prevents tumors and maintains the proper form of tissues. Many cells must also retain the ability to start dividing again when conditions are right, e.g., when the organism must grow, or a damaged tissue must be repaired. A cell in such a temporary, non-dividing state is said to be quiescent. Quiescence is a common state for many somatic cells, including fibroblasts, lymphocytes, hematopoietic stem cells, and even dormant tumor cells. Failure to appropriately regulate the transition between quiescence and proliferation underlies several common and lethal disorders, such as cancer, fibrosis and autoimmune diseases. Yet, despite its prevalence and medical importance, and in stark contrast to our detailed understanding of cell proliferation, we know remarkably little about quiescence. My research has focused on understanding the molecular basis of quiescence. While the commonly-held perception of quiescence is as a sleepy or default state, my research suggests that quiescence is an active and highly regulated process. My laboratory has used sophisticated technologies and computational approaches to understand the cellular networks that underlie quiescence. We have applied next generation sequencing, mass spectrometry proteomics and mass spectrometry metabolomics to generate high-quality datasets defining the characteristics of proliferating and quiescent cells. We have also developed computational and algorithmic approaches for analyzing and interpreting these datasets. As one example, we used a metabolomics-based strategy to define the metabolic changes in quiescent compared with proliferating fibroblasts, and discovered an important survival pathway for the quiescent cells. This work led to the identification of specific small molecules and combinations of small molecules that selectively target either proliferating or quiescent fibroblasts for apoptotic cell death. We are extending this work to understand the quiescent state of cells in vivo.

Selected Publications

Corney, D., and Coller, H.A., "On form and function: Does chromatin packing regulate the cell cycle?", Physiol Genomics 46 (6): 191-194 (2014).

Coller, H.A., "Is cancer a metabolic disease?", American Journal of Pathology 184 (1): 4-17 (2014).

Evertts, A.G., Wang, X., Manning, A.L., Dyson, N.J., Garcia, B.A., and Coller, H.A., "H4K20 methylation functions in quiescence and chromatin compaction", Molecular Biology of the Cell 24 (19): 3025-3037 (2014).

Jiang P, Singh M, Coller HA., "Computational assessment of the cooperativity between RNA binding proteins and MicroRNAs in Transcript Decay", PLoS Comput Biol 9 (5): (2013). [link]

Coller, H., "Introducing the systems biology of cell state", Physiological Genomics 45 (11): 407-408 (2013).

Evertts, A., Zee, B.M., DiMaggio, P.A., Gonzales-Cope, M., Coller, H.A. and Garcia, B.A., "Quantitative dynamics of the link between cellular metabolism and histone acetylation", Journal of Biological Chemistry 288 (17): (2013).

Klionsky et al., "Guidelines for the use and interpretation of assays for monitoring autophagy", Autophagy 8 (4): 445-544 (2013).

Sang, L. and Coller, H.A., "Fear of commitment: Hes1 protects quiescent fibroblasts from irreversible cellular fates", Cell Cycle 8 (14): 2161-2167 (2013).

Coller, H.A. and Kruglyak, L., "It's the sequence, stupid!", Science 322 (5900): 380-381 (2013).

Evertts AG, Coller HA., "Back to the origin: reconsidering replication, transcription, epigenetics, and cell cycle control", Genes Cancer 3 (11-12): 678-696 (2012). [link]

Suh, E.J., Remillard, M.Y., Legesse-Miller, A., Johnson, E.L. Lemons, J.M.S., Chapman, T.R., Forman, J.J., Kojima, M., Silberman, E.S., and Coller, H.A., "A microRNA network regulates proliferative timing and extracellular matrix synthesis during cellular quiescence in fibroblasts", Genome Biology 13 (12): (2012).

Legesse-Miller, A., Raitman, I., Haley, E.M., Liao, A., Sun, L., Wang, D.J., Suh, E.J., Johnson, E.L., Lund, B., and Coller, H.A., "Quiescent fibroblasts are protected from proteasome inhibition-mediated toxicity", Molecular Biology of the Cell 23 (18): 3566-3581 (2012).

Jiang, P., and Coller, H.A. (2012), "Functional interactions between microRNAs and RNA binding proteins", microRNA 1 (1): 70-79 (2012).

Johnson, E.L., Suh, E.J., Chapman, T.R. and Coller, H.A., "Identifying the function of miRNAs using over-expression and knockdown methods to determine miRNA-regulated transcripts and pathways,", In: Regulatory RNAs: Basics, Methods and Applications (2012).

Valcourt, J.R., Lemons, J.M.S., Haley, E.M., Kojima, M., Demuren, O.O., and Coller, H.A., "Staying alive: metabolic adaptations to quiescence", Cell Cycle 11 (9): 1680-1696 (2012).