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Ellen R. Richie, Ph.D.

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Professor, Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis, Science Park, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Smithville, TX
Assistant Dean, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, TX

Research Interests

A major focus of my research program is to discern the molecular pathways that regulate thymus development and homeostasis. T cell development requires indispensable growth, survival and differentiation signals supplied by thymic epithelial cells (TECs) in the stromal microenvironment. Loss of TECs during age-associated or cytoablative therapy-induced thymus involution reduces thymopoiesis and naive T cell output. The resulting restriction in T cell receptor repertoire diversity of peripheral T cells severely compromises immune responses to newly encountered antigens. We are using various transgenic and knock-out experimental models to identify molecular pathways that can be manipulated to prevent or reverse thymus involution in order to maintain protective T cell immune responsiveness. In another approach to provide a functional thymic microenvironment, we are studying the molecular pathways that commit primitive endodermal progenitors to a TEC fate and regulate differentiation of functional TEC subsets.


We are also investigating the genetic and epigenetic pathways that regulate thymocyte differentiation and thymic lymphoma development. Using an experimental model in which thymic lymphomas are induced by injecting the carcinogen N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (MNU), we have shown that mice expressing a hypomorphic allele of the Polycomb group gene eed have a partial block in thymocyte differentiation as well as enhanced susceptibility to MNU-induced lymphomagenesis. These data suggest that eed functions as a tumor suppressor gene in inhibiting thymic lymphoma. We are currently investigating the mechanisms by which eed regulates T cell development and lymphomagenesis.

Office Address

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
1808 Park Road 1C
P.O. Box 389
Unit Number: 116
Smithville, TX 78957
Room Number: SRD1.138
Phone: 512 237-9435
Fax: 512 237-6533

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

1970 The University of Texas, Austin, TX, PHD, Immunochemistry
1967 The University of Texas, Austin, TX, BA, Microbiology-major, Chemistry and English-minors

Postgraduate Training

1/1970-1/1972 Research Fellowship, Baylor College of Medicine, Division of Experimental Biology, Houston, TX


Academic Appointments

Associate Professor, Science Park-Research Division, The University of Texas System Cancer Center, Smithville, TX, 1/1982-1/1991
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, The University of Texas System Cancer Center, M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute, Houston, TX, 1/1979-1/1982
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, The University of Texas System Cancer Center, M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute, Houston, TX, 1/1974-1/1979
Assistant Professor, Division of Experimental Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, 1/1972-1/1974

Other Appointments/Responsibilities

Member, American Association of Immunologists Finance Subcommittee, Bethesda, MD, 2005-2008

Institutional Committee Activities

Program Director, Molecular Carcinogenesis Program, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, Texas, 1999-2010
Chairperson, Postdoctoral Training Committee, The University of Texas System Cancer Center, Science Park, 1984-present

Honors and Awards

2011 Reappointed to the GSBS Faculty with Commendation
2006 Reappointed to the GSBS Faculty with Commendation
2001 Reappointed to the GSBS Faculty with Commendation
2000 M. D. Anderson Educator of the Month
1998 M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Faculty Achievement Award in Education

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Garfin PM, Min D, Bryson JL, Serwold T, Edris B, Blackburn CC, Richie ER, Weinberg KI, Manley NR, Sage J, Viatour P. Inactivation of the RB family prevents thymus involution and promotes thymic function by direct control of Foxn1 expression. J Exp Med 210(6):1087-97, 6/3/2013. e-Pub 5/13/2013. PMCID: PMC3674705.
2. Li J, Zhao Z, Carter C, Ehrlich LI, Bedford MT, Richie ER. Coactivator-Associated Arginine Methyltransferase 1 Regulates Fetal Hematopoiesis and Thymocyte Development. J Immunol 190(2):597-604, 1/15/2013. e-Pub 12/17/2012. PMCID: PMC3538901.
3. Bryson JL, Griffith AV, Hughes B, Saito F, Takahama Y, Richie ER, Manley NR. Cell-Autonomous Defects in Thymic Epithelial Cells Disrupt Endothelial-Perivascular Cell Interactions in the Mouse Thymus. PLoS One 8(6):e65196, 2013. e-Pub 6/4/2013. PMCID: PMC3672159.
4. Onder L, Narang P, Scandella E, Chai Q, Iolyeva M, Hoorweg K, Halin C, Richie E, Kaye P, Westermann J, Cupedo T, Coles M, Ludewig B. IL-7-producing stromal cells are critical for lymph node remodeling. Blood 120(24):4675-83, 12/6/2012. e-Pub 9/6/2012. PMID: 22955921.
5. Badeaux AI, Yang Y, Cardenas K, Vemulapalli V, Chen K, Kusewitt D, Richie E, Li W, Bedford MT. Loss of the methyl-lysine effector molecule PHF20 impacts the expression of genes regulated by the lysine acetyltransferase MOF. J Biol Chem 287(1):429-37, 1/2/2012. e-Pub 11/9/2011. PMCID: PMC3249094.
6. Foster KE, Gordon J, Cardenas K, Veiga-Fernandes H, Makinen T, Grigorieva E, Wilkinson DG, Blackburn CC, Richie E, Manley NR, Adams RH, Kioussis D, Coles MC. EphB-ephrin-B2 interactions are required for thymus migration during organogenesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107(30):13414-9, 7/27/2010. e-Pub 7/8/2010. PMCID: PMC2922182.
7. Kim D, Lee J, Cheng D, Li J, Carter C, Richie E, Bedford MT. Enzymatic activity is required for the in vivo functions of CARM1. J Biol Chem 285(2):1147-52, 1/8/2010. e-Pub 11/5/2009. PMCID: PMC2801243.
8. Rojas P, Benavides F, Blando J, Perez C, Cardenas K, Richie E, Knudsen ES, Johnson DG, Senderowicz AM, Rodriguez-Puebla ML, Conti CJ. Enhanced skin carcinogenesis and lack of thymus hyperplasia in transgenic mice expressing human cyclin D1b (CCND1b). Mol Carcinog 48(6):508-16, 6/2009. PMCID: PMC2705965.
9. Repass JF, Laurent MN, Carter C, Reizis B, Bedford MT, Cardenas K, Narang P, Coles M, Richie ER. IL7-hCD25 and IL7-Cre BAC transgenic mouse lines: New tools for analysis of IL-7 expressing cells. Genesis 47(4):281-7, 4/2009. PMID: 19263498.
10. Griffith AV, Cardenas K, Carter C, Gordon J, Iberg A, Engleka K, Epstein JA, Manley NR, Richie ER. Increased thymus- and decreased parathyroid-fated organ domains in Splotch mutant empryos. Dev Biol 327(1):216-27, 3/1/2009. e-Pub 12/25/2008. PMCID: PMC2643307.
11. Lomada D, Liu B, Coghlan L, Hu Y , Richie ER. Thymus medulla formation and central tolerance are restored in IKKalpha-/- mice that express an IKKalpha transgene in keratin 5+ thymic epithelial cells. J Immunol 178(2):829-37, 1/2007. PMID: 17202344.
12. Zamisch M, Moore-Scott B, Su DM, Lucas PJ, Manley N, Richie ER. Ontogeny and regulation of IL-7-expressing thymic epithelial cells. J Immunol 174(1):60-7, 1/2005. PMID: 15611228.
13. Klug DB, Carter C, Gimenez-Conti IB, Richie ER. Cutting edge: thymocyte-independent and thymocyte-dependent phases of epithelial patterning in the fetal thymus. J Immunol 169(6):2842-5, 9/2002. PMID: 12218095.
14. Richie ER, Schumacher A, Angel JM, Holloway M, Rinchik EM, Magnuson T. The Polycomb-group gene eed regulates thymocyte differentiation and suppresses the development of carcinogen-induced T-cell lymphomas. Oncogene 21(2):299-306, 1/2002. PMID: 11803473.
15. Rodriguez-Puebla ML, LaCava M, Miliani De Marval PL, Jorcano JL, Richie ER, Conti CJ. Cyclin D2 overexpression in transgenic mice induces thymic and epidermal hyperplasia whereas cyclin D3 expression results only in epidermal hyperplasia. Am J Pathol 157(3):1039-50, 9/2000. PMCID: PMC1885715.
16. Gomez G, Clarkin KZ, Kraig E, Infante AJ, Richie ER. TCR v(beta) repertoire restriction and lack of CDR3 conservation implicate TCR-superantigen interactions in promoting the clonal evolution of murine thymic lymphomas. Int Immunol 12(3):263-70, 3/2000. PMID: 10700461.
17. Klug DB, Crouch E, Carter C, Coghlan L, Conti CJ, Richie ER. Transgenic expression of cyclin D1 in thymic epithelial precursors promotes epithelial and T cell development. J Immunol 164(4):1881-8, 2/2000. PMID: 10657637.
18. Klug DB, Carter C, Crouch E, Roop D, Conti CJ, Richie ER. Interdependence of cortical thymic epithelial cell differentiation and T-lineage commitment. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 95(20):11822-7, 9/1998. PMCID: PMC21724.

Book Chapters

1. O'Neill K, Nowell CS, Richie E, Manley NR, Blackburn CC. Thymus and Parathyroid Organogenesis. In: Principles of Tissue Engineering. In Press.
2. Manley NR, Richie ER, Blackburn CC, Condie BG, Sage J. Structure and function of the thymic microenvironment. In: Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 17, 2461-77, e-Book 2011. ISBN: 21622189.
3. Nowell CS, Richie E, Manley NR, Blackburn CC. Thymus and parathyroid organogenesis. In: Principles of Tissue Engineering. Chapter 44, 3. Ed(s) Lanza R, Langer R, Vacanti JP. Elsevier/Academic Press: Burlington MA, 647-62, 2008.
4. Richie ER, Walker DA. Production and characterization of immature murine T-lymphoma cell lines. In: T Cell Protocols: Development and Activation. Methods in Molecular Biology, Volume 134. 134. Ed(s) Kearse K. Humana Press, 177-84, 2000.

Last updated: 8/4/2016