Ya-Huei Kuo, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor, Division of Hematopoietic Stem Cell and Leukemia Research

Ya-Huei Kuo, Ph.D.

Enfoque de la investigación :
  • Leukemia Biology
As a key researcher at City of Hope's Beckman Research Institute, Ya-Huei Kuo runs a laboratory focused on understanding the molecular anatomy of leukemia stem cells, and developing novel methods for targeting and attacking them. She has published dozens of scholarly papers and received the 2012 American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award.
Dr. Kuo joined City of Hope in 2008 after a post-doctoral fellowship in Genetics, Hematology and Cancer Biology at University of Massachusetts Medical School.
  • 2014 to Present - Associate professor, Division of Hematopoietic Stem Cell and Leukemia Research, Beckman Research Institute at City of Hope, Duarte, CA
  • 2008 to 2014 - Assistant professor, Division of Hematopoietic Stem Cell and Leukemia Research, Beckman Research Institute at City of Hope, Duarte, CA
  • 1999 - Teaching Assistant, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CN
  • 1995 - Research Assistant, Hepatitis Research Center, National Taiwan University School of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 1995 - Research Intern, Institute of Molecular and Cellular BIology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan


  • 2001 - University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, Ph.D. in Cell Biology
  • 1995 - National Taiwan University, Taipei, B.S. in Zoology

Beca de investigación

  • 2002 to 2007 - Post-doctoral fellow, Program in Gene Function and Expression, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA
Molecular Genetics of Hematopoietic Stem Cells and Leukemia Stem Cells

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most common type of leukemia in adults with approximately 20,000 new cases and 10,000 deaths each year in the United States. Despite considerable improvement of survival rates for patients with leukemia over the past 50 years, the overall five-year relative survival rate for AML patients is only approximately 20 percent.

Leukemia stem cells (LSCs) are now recognized as the critical “seeds” of leukemia, and represent a fundamental challenge thought to underlie poor outcome due to their relative resistance to standard chemotherapy. Our long-term goal is to elucidate the molecular mechanism(s) regulating the maintenance of LSCs, to understand how they differ from normal hematopoietic stem cells, and to develop novel LSC-targeted therapeutics. Using a genetic mouse model of a common chromosome aberration found in AML patients, known as inv(16), we have shown that leukemia arises as a result of a multi-step transformation process involving mutations that disrupt hematopoietic differentiation, and those that deregulate proliferation and self-renewal programs.

Our current research efforts are directed towards understanding the molecular pathways and functional mediators regulating normal hematopoiesis as well as those underlying leukemogenesis using a combination of genetics, genomics, biochemistry, proteomics, molecular biology and cellular biology approaches. We use defined genetic mouse models as an experimental system to identify molecular pathways and targets, and primary cells from AML patients to validate the findings and perform further translational and preclinical studies. We believe that a comprehensive understanding of oncogenic mechanisms will enable rational design and selection of improved cancer treatments.

Chen MJ, Kuo YH, Tian XC and Chen TT. (2002) Novel biological activities of fish pro-IGF-I E-peptides: studies on effects of fish pro-IGF-I E-peptides on morphological change, anchorage-independent cell division, and invasiveness in tumor cells.  Gen. Comp. Endocrinol 126(3): 342-351. PMID: 12093122

Kuo YH and Chen TT. (2002) Novel biological activities of pro-IGF-I E-peptides: regulation of morphological differentiation and anchorage-independent growth in neuroblastoma cells.   Exp. Cell Res. 280(1): 75-89. PMID: 12372341

Kuo YH and Chen, TT. (2003) Specific binding of pro-IGF-I E-peptides to putative cell surface receptors on human neuroblastoma cells.  Gen. Comp. Endocrinol. 132(2): 231-240. PMID: 12812770

Landrette SF, Kuo YH, Hensen K, Barjesteh van Waalwijk van Doorn-Khosrovani S, Perrat PN, Van de Ven WJ, Delwel R, Castilla LH. (2005) Plag1 and Plagl2 are oncogenes that induce acute myeloid leukemia in cooperation with Cbfb-MYH11. Blood 105(7): 2900-7. PMID: 15585652

Kuo YH, Landrette SF, Heilman SA, Perrat PN, Garrett L, Liu PP, Le Beau MM, Kogan SC, Castilla LH. (2006) Cbf(beta)-SMMHC induces distinct abnormal myeloid progenitors able to develop acute myeloid leukemia. Cancer Cell 9(1): 57-68. PMID: 16413472 (Cover).

Heilman SA, Kuo YH, Valk PJM, Castilla LH. (2006) Cbf(beta) reduces Cbf(beta)-SMMHC-associated acute myeloid leukemia in mice. Cancer Research 66(23): 11214-8. PMID: 17145866

Kuo YH, Gerstein RM, and Castilla LH. (2008) Cbf(beta)-SMMHC impairs differentiation of common lymphoid progenitors and reveals an essential role for RUNX in early B cell development. Blood 111(3): 1543-51. PMID: 17940206; PMCID: PMC2214760

Kuo YH, Zaidi SK, Gornostaeva S, Komori T, Stein GS, Castilla LH. (2009) Runx2 induces acute myeloid leukemia in cooperation with Cbf(beta)-SMMHC in mice. Blood 113(14): 3323-32. PMID: 19179305; PMCID: PMC2665897

Pulikkan JA, Madera D, Xue L, Bradley P, Landrette SF, Kuo YH, Abbas S, Zhu LJ, Valk P, Castilla LH. (2012) THPO/MPL participates in initiating and maintaining RUNX1-ETO acute myeloid leukemia via PI3K/AKT signaling. Blood 120(4): 868-79. PMID: 22613795; PMCID: PMC3412349

Jeannet R, Cai, Q, Liu H, Vu H, Kuo YH. (2013) Alcam regulates long-term hematopoietic stem cell engraftment and self-renewal. Stem Cells 31(3): 560-71. PMID: 23280653; PMCID: PMC3832064

Dos Santos C. McDonald T, Ho YW, Liu H, Lin A, Forman SJ, Kuo YH*, and Bhatia R*. (2013) The Src and c-Kit kinase inhibitor dasatinib enhances p53-mediated targeting of human acute myeloid leukemia stem cell by chemotherapeutic agents. Blood 122(11): 1900-13. PMID: 23896410. (* Equal contribution, co-correspondence)

Hossain DM, Dos Santos C, Zhang Q, Kozlowska A, Liu H, Gao C, Moreira D, Swiderski P, Jozwiak A, Kline J, Forman S, Bhatia R, Kuo YH*, and Kortylewski M*. (2014) Leukemia cell-targeted STAT3 silencing and TLR-9-triggering generate systemic antitumor immunity. Blood 123(1): 15-25. PMID: 24169824; PMCID: PMC3879904 (* Equal contribution, co-correspondence)

Kortylewski M and Kuo YH. (2014) Push and release: TLR9 activation plus STAT3 blockade for systemic antitumor immunity. OncoImmunology 3(1): e27441. PMID: 24800162; PMCID: PMC4006856

Li L, Osdal T, Ho Y, Chun S, McDonald T, Agarwal P, Lin A, Chu S, Qi J, Li L, Hsieh Y-T, Dos Santos C, Yuan H, Popa M, Gjertsen BT, Kuo YH, Chen W, Lain S, McCormack E and Bhatia R. (2014) SIRT1 activation by a c-MYC Oncogenic Network Promotes the Maintenance and Drug Resistance of Human FLT3-ITD Acute Myeloid Leukemia Stem Cells. Cell Stem Cell 15(4): 431-46. PMID: 25280219; PMCID: PMC4305398

Kuo YH* and Bhatia R*. (2014). Pushing the Limits: Defeating Leukemia Stem Cells by   Depleting Telomerase. Cell Stem Cell 15, 673-675. PMID: 25479742;PMCID: PMC4394378. (*Correspondence)

Qi J, Singh S, Hua W-K, Cai Q, Chao S-W, Li L, Liu H, Ho Y, McDonald T, Lin A, Marcucci G, Bhatia R, Huang W-J, Chang C-I, Kuo YH. (2015) HDAC8 inhibition specifically targets inv(16) acute myeloid leukemia stem cells by restoring p53 acetylation. Cell Stem Cell, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.stem.2015.08.004

  • 2012 to 2016 - American Cancer Society Research Scholar Grant Award
  • 2010 to 2012 - Concern Foundation CONquer canCER Now Award
  • 2009 to 2012 - The V Foundation for Cancer Research, V Scholar Award
  • 2009 - Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation Discovery Research Grant Award
  • 2009 to 2011 - Margaret E. Early Medical Research Award
  • 2008 to 2011 - STOP CANCER Research Career Development Award
  • 2004 to 2007 - Individual Post-doctoral Fellowship, Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health
  • 2003 to 2004 - Post-doctoral Fellowship, Our Danny Cancer Fund, Cancer Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School
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