Christina Towers, PhD

Assistant Professor

Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory

Christina Towers
Salk Institute for Biological Studies - Publications


Highlighted Publications

Cancer Cells Upregulate NRF2 Signaling to Adapt to Autophagy Inhibition.
Towers CG, Fitzwalter BE, Regan D, Goodspeed A, Morgan MJ, Liu CW, Gustafson DL, Thorburn A.
Dev Cell. 2019 Sep 23;50(6):690-703.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2019.07.010. Epub 2019 Aug 1.
PMID: 31378590.

Autophagy-dependent cancer cells circumvent loss of the upstream regulator RB1CC1/FIP200 and loss of LC3 conjugation by similar mechanisms.
Towers CG, Wodetzki D, Thorburn A.
Autophagy. 2020 Jul;16(7):1332-1340. doi: 10.1080/15548627.2020.1741204. Epub 2020 Mar 18.
PMID: 32160093

Autophagy and cancer: Modulation of cell death pathways and cancer cell adaptations.
Towers CG, Wodetzki D, Thorburn A.
J Cell Biol. 2020 Jan 6;219(1):e201909033. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201909033.
PMID: 31753861. Review.

Targeting autophagy in cancer.
Levy JMM, Towers CG, Thorburn A.
Nat Rev Cancer. 2017 Sep;17(9):528-542. doi: 10.1038/nrc.2017.53. Epub 2017 Jul 28.
PMID: 28751651. Review.


Towers, Christina G. and Wodetzki, Darya and Thorburn, Jackie and Smith, Katharine R. and Caino, M. Cecilia and Thorburn, Andrew, Alternate Mitochondrial Pathways Compensate for Loss of LC3-Mediated Mitophagy. Available at SSRN: or doi: 10.2139/ssrn.3728139.

Additional Publications

On Being Black in the Ivory Tower.
Armstrong A, Lomax J, Traylor-Knowles N, Samba-Louaka A, Towers C.
Cell. 2020 Oct 29;183(3):559-560. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.10.006.
PMID: 33125879 No abstract available.

Estrogen Regulation of mTOR Signaling and Mitochondrial Function in Invasive Lobular Carcinoma Cell Lines Requires WNT4.
Shackleford MT, Rao DM, Bordeaux EK, Hicks HM, Towers CG, Sottnik JL, Oesterreich S, Sikora MJ.
Cancers (Basel). 2020 Oct 12;12(10):2931. doi: 10.3390/cancers12102931.
PMID: 33053661.

Circumventing autophagy inhibition.
Towers CG, Thorburn A.
Cell Cycle. 2019 Dec;18(24):3421-3431. doi: 10.1080/15384101.2019.1692483. Epub 2019 Nov 18.
PMID: 31736401. Review.

Mechanistic insight into the regulation of SQSTM1/p62.
Zhang Y, Mun SR, Linares JF, Towers CG, Thorburn A, Diaz-Meco MT, Kwon YT, Kutateladze TG.
Autophagy. 2019 Apr;15(4):735-737. doi: 10.1080/15548627.2019.1569935. Epub 2019 Jan 22.
PMID: 30653391.

ZZ-dependent regulation of p62/SQSTM1 in autophagy.
Zhang Y, Mun SR, Linares JF, Ahn J, Towers CG, Ji CH, Fitzwalter BE, Holden MR, Mi W, Shi X, Moscat J, Thorburn A, Diaz-Meco MT, Kwon YT, Kutateladze TG.
Nat Commun. 2018 Oct 22;9(1):4373. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06878-8.
PMID: 30349045.

The miR-106b-25 cluster mediates breast tumor initiation through activation of NOTCH1 via direct repression of NEDD4L.
Guarnieri AL, Towers CG, Drasin DJ, Oliphant MUJ, Andrysik Z, Hotz TJ, Vartuli RL, Linklater ES, Pandey A, Khanal S, Espinosa JM, Ford HL.
Oncogene. 2018 Jul;37(28):3879-3893. doi: 10.1038/s41388-018-0239-7. Epub 2018 Apr 17.
PMID: 29662198.

Autophagy Inhibition Mediates Apoptosis Sensitization in Cancer Therapy by Relieving FOXO3a Turnover.
Fitzwalter BE, Towers CG, Sullivan KD, Andrysik Z, Hoh M, Ludwig M, O’Prey J, Ryan KM, Espinosa JM, Morgan MJ, Thorburn A.
Dev Cell. 2018 Mar 12;44(5):555-565.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2018.02.014.
PMID: 29533771.

Targeting the Lysosome for Cancer Therapy.
Towers CG, Thorburn A.
Cancer Discov. 2017 Nov;7(11):1218-1220. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-17-0996.
PMID: 29097619.

A Genome-Wide Loss-of-Function Screen Identifies SLC26A2 as a Novel Mediator of TRAIL Resistance.
Dimberg LY, Towers CG, Behbakht K, Hotz TJ, Kim J, Fosmire S, Porter CC, Tan AC, Thorburn A, Ford HL.
Mol Cancer Res. 2017 Apr;15(4):382-394. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-16-0234. Epub 2017 Jan 20.
PMID: 28108622.

Therapeutic Targeting of Autophagy.
Towers CG, Thorburn A.
EBioMedicine. 2016 Dec;14:15-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.10.034. Epub 2016 Oct 23.
PMID: 28029600 . Review.

A tale of two ends.
Towers CG, Ford HL.
Cell Cycle. 2016 Jun 17;15(12):1523-4. doi: 10.1080/15384101.2016.1171652. Epub 2016 Apr 21.
PMID: 27101085. No abstract available.

The Six1 oncoprotein downregulates p53 via concomitant regulation of RPL26 and microRNA-27a-3p.
Towers CG, Guarnieri AL, Micalizzi DS, Harrell JC, Gillen AE, Kim J, Wang CA, Oliphant MUJ, Drasin DJ, Guney MA, Kabos P, Sartorius CA, Tan AC, Perou CM, Espinosa JM, Ford HL.
Nat Commun. 2015 Dec 21;6:10077. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10077.
PMID: 26687066.

The SIX1-EYA transcriptional complex as a therapeutic target in cancer.
Blevins MA, Towers CG, Patrick AN, Zhao R, Ford HL.
Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2015 Feb;19(2):213-25. doi: 10.1517/14728222.2014.978860. Epub 2015 Jan 2.
PMID: 25555392. Review.


BS, University of Miami
PhD, University of Colorado
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Colorado

Awards & Honors

  • Pew-Stewart Scholar for Cancer Research, 2022
  • Keystone Symposia Fellow, 2022
  • Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00), 2020-2025
  • The Cancer League of Colorado Pilot Award, 2020-2021
  • ACLS Leading Edge Fellow, 2020
  • American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2019-2021
  • UC Department of Pharmacology Excellence in Research Award, 2019
  • Kirschstein National Research Service Award NIH T32 Award, 2016-2018
  • The UC Graduate School Outstanding Dissertation Award, 2016
  • UC Department of Pharmacology Excellence in Research Award, 2015
  • The Future Leaders Advancing Research in Endocrinology (FLARE) Award, 2013
  • The UNCF/Merck Graduate Science Research Dissertation Fellowship, 2012-2014
  • The NIH RO-1 Diversity Supplement Graduate Fellowship, 2012-2015
  • Sachs Foundation Minority Graduate Scholarship, 2010-2014
  • Kirschstein National Research Service Award NIH T32 Award, 2010-2012
  • Sachs Foundation Minority Undergraduate Scholarship, 2006-2009