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Department of Biology




Maria G. Castillo

Title: Assistant Professor
Research area:
Office location: FH 378
Email Address:
Office Phone: 575-646-7664
Lab Phone: 575-646-7678
Lab Webpage: ---


PhD. Comparative Biomedical Sciences, 2005; University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI; Thesis title: Biomphalaria glabrata embryonic cell-Schistosoma mansoni sporocyst surface membrane interactions.
M.S. Biology, 1995; University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX; Thesis title: Intestinal fluid secretion in rats infected with Nippostrongylus brasiliensis (Nematode) and/or administered cholera toxin.
B.S. Microbiology, 1991; University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX.

Courses Taught:

Biology II for majors
Human Physiology
Introduction to Biology

Research Interests:
Our laboratory focuses on the study of the immunological aspects of the relationship between the Hawaiian bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes and its beneficial partner, the luminous bacteria Vibrio fischeri (1). The interaction between these two organisms is very specific and limited to a specialized light organ located in the ventral cavity of the squid. The bacteria find within the host shelter and nutrients, while the squid utilizes the light produced by the bacteria as counterillumination to avoid predation during its nocturnal activities (2).
Our research investigates the presence, diversity, and function of complement-like proteins in the squid E. scolopes and their potential role in beneficial symbiosis. The complement system consists of a group of proteins that play an important role in immune processes such as cytolysis, opsonization, inflammation, and linking the innate and adaptive immune systems. Orthologs of several vertebrate complement components were recently identified in deuterostomes, ecdysozoans, and lophotrochozoans including tunicates, horseshoe crab, and squid respectively. The finding of complement molecules in invertebrates suggests a more primitive origin of these immune components than previously thought and presents an opportunity to study the changes of the immune system through evolution.
In addition, the specific association between E. scolopes and V. fischeri is a unique model system that allows us to study various aspects of immune interactions between organisms of different species in a context that differs from pathogenesis.
References: (1 )Nyholm S. V. and McFall-Ngai, 2004. (2) Jones B. W. and Nishiguchi M. K., 2004).

Selected Publications:

M. G. Castillo, M. S. Goodson, and M. J. McFall-Ngai. 2008. Identification and molecular characterization of a complement C3 molecule in a lophotrochozoan, the Hawaiian bobtail squid Euprymna scolopes. Developemental and Comparative Immunology. In print.
M. G. Castillo, X. J. Wu, N. Dinguirard, and T. P. Yoshino. 2008. HSP60 expressed on the surface membrane of B. glabrata embryonic cells is involved in binding to Schistosoma mansoni primary sporocysts tegumental molecules. In preparation
M. G. Castillo, X. J. Wu, N. Dinguirard, A. K Nyame, R. D. Cummings, and T. P. Yoshino. 2007. Surface membrane proteins of Biomphalaria glabrata embryonic cells bind fucosyl determinants on the tegumental surface of Schistosoma mansoni primary sporocysts. Journal of Parasitology, 93:832-40.
M. G. Castillo and T. P. Yoshino. 2003. Carbohydrate inhibition of Biomphalaria glabrata embryonic (Bge) cell adhesion to primary sporocysts of Schistosoma mansoni. Parasitology, 125: 513-525.
T. P. Yoshino, C. Coustau, S. Modat, and M. G. Castillo. 1999. The Biomphalaria glabrata embryonic (Bge) molluscan cell line: Establishment of an in vitro cellular model for the study of snail host-parasite interactions. Malacologia, 41(2): 331-343.
T. P. Yoshino, B. J. Davids, M. G. Castillo and L. A. Johnston. 1998. Invertebrate cellular adhesion receptors: their structure and function as primordial recognition molecules in the immune system. Trends in Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Vol 5:49-65.




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