Guillermo Oliver, Ph.D.

Guillermo Oliver, Ph.D.

Department of Genetics and Tumor
Cell Biology
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Affiliated Professor
Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
MS 331, Room 3055
332 N. Lauderdale
Memphis, TN 38105
Phone: (901) 495-2697
Fax: (901) 495-2907
Email: Guillermo Oliver


  • Ph.D. Institution: University of Uruguay, Montevideo, Uruguay


Research Interests

The general goal of my research program is to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling mammalian organ development in health and disease by focusing in two homedomain-containing transcription factors (Six3 and Prox1). During the last few years, we generated a number of valuable animal models that have been critical in the progress of our research. The detailed characterization of many of these animal models highlighted the important roles of these two genes in mammalian embryonic development and disease. We gathered valuable information about how these genes control basic aspects of brain, visual system and lymphatic development and generated a number of animal models of disease aimed to better understand the role of these genes in a variety of human disorders.

The detailed characterization of generated Six3 standard and conditional knock-out mouse strains revealed the critical function of this gene during brain formation and regionalization as we previously demonstrated that Six3 directly represses Wnt1 expression in the anterior neuroectoderm and that this step is essential for forebrain development. Using a generated Six3 conditional mouse strain we also determined that conditional deletion of Six3 in the presumptive lens ectoderm affected lens induction and specification positioning Six3 at the top of the regulatory pathway leading to lens formation. Using a similar conditional deletion approach we identified Six3 as the first gene whose activity is required to initiate neuroretina specification.

In relationship with Prox1, our previous work revealed that in mammals, Prox1 activity is critical for the development of many organs and tissues, such as lymphatic vasculature, dentate gyrus, lens, retina, and heart. Our initial work identified Prox1 as the first specific marker for lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) and described the first mouse model devoid of a lymphatic vasculature. Subsequently, we demonstrated that blood endothelial cells (BECs) are the default condition from which a LEC fate is induced by Prox1. In a surprising twist, we also demonstrated that a defective lymphatic vasculature promotes late-onset obesity in Prox1 heterozygous mice, a result that could have important implications in public health. Later by using a lineage tracing approach, we showed that in mammals the lymphatic vasculature is exclusively venous derived, an issue that has been debated for over a century. More recently, we demonstrated that the LEC phenotype is plastic and requires constant expression of Prox1 to maintain its differentiated state.

Representative Publications

  • Smeltzer MP, Rugless FE, Jackson BM, Berryman CL, Faris NR, Ray MA, Meadows M, Patel AA, Roark KS, Kedia SK, DeBon MM, Crossley FJ, Oliver G, McHugh LM, Hastings W, Osborne O, Osborne J, Ill T, Ill M, Jones W, Lee HK, Signore RS, Fox RC, Li J, Robbins ET, Ward KD, Klesges LM, Osarogiagbon RU. Pragmatic trial of a multidisciplinary lung cancer care model in a community healthcare setting: study design, implementation evaluation, and baseline clinical results. Transl Lung Cancer Res. 2018 Feb;7(1):88-102. doi: 10.21037/tlcr.2018.01.02. PubMed PMID: 29535915; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5835591.
  • Takata N, Abbey D, Fiore L, Acosta S, Feng R, Gil HJ, Lavado A, Geng X, Interiano A, Neale G, Eiraku M, Sasai Y, Oliver G. An Eye Organoid Approach Identifies Six3 Suppression of R-spondin 2 as a Critical Step in Mouse Neuroretina Differentiation. Cell Rep. 2017 Nov 7;21(6):1534-1549. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.10.041. PubMed PMID: 29117559; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5728169.
  • Geng X, Acosta S, Lagutin O, Gil HJ, Oliver G. Six3 dosage mediates the pathogenesis of holoprosencephaly. Development. 2016 Dec 1;143(23):4462-4473. Epub 2016 Oct 21. PubMed PMID: 27770010; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5201039.
  • Escobedo N, Oliver G. Lymphangiogenesis: Origin, Specification, and Cell Fate Determination. Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2016 Oct 6;32:677-691. Epub 2016 Jun 1. Review. PubMed PMID: 27298093.
  • Escobedo N, Proulx ST, Karaman S, Dillard ME, Johnson N, Detmar M, Oliver G. Restoration of lymphatic function rescues obesity in Prox1-haploinsufficient mice. JCI Insight. 2016 Feb 1;1(2). pii: e85096. Epub 2016 Feb 25. PubMed PMID: 26973883; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4786184.
  • Miyoshi G, Young A, Petros T, Karayannis T, McKenzie Chang M, Lavado A, Iwano T, Nakajima M, Taniguchi H, Huang ZJ, Heintz N, Oliver G, Matsuzaki F, Machold RP, Fishell G. Prox1 Regulates the Subtype-Specific Development of Caudal Ganglionic Eminence-Derived GABAergic Cortical Interneurons. J Neurosci. 2015 Sep 16;35(37):12869-89. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1164-15.2015. PubMed PMID: 26377473; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4571608.

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