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Research Group
Asymmetric division of neural stem cells in development and tumorigenesis
Unit Unit Developmental Neurobiology »

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Principal Investigator Ph.D. Investigator Graduate students / Research Assistant
Research Fields
One of the big challenges in Developmental Neurobiology is to understand how the immense variety of neural types that constitute the nervous system is generated. Asymmetric cell division is a universal and key mechanism to generate cell diversity during Development, and it is also an important process in Cancer and Stem Cell Biology. Our lab is currently focused on analyzing in depth this process both during development and in tumorigenesis. The aim of our research is to unveil the functional signaling networks underlying the autonomous and non-autonomous mechanisms that regulate asymmetric cell division. In this context, we consider PDZ (PSD-95, Dlg, ZO-1) domain-containing proteins, including the proteins Canoe/Afadin and Scribble, excellent candidates as hubs of cross-talk between signaling pathways during this process. We achieve our research combining Genetic, Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Proteomic techniques.

Specifically, we are interested in studying and contributing to answering three fundamental questions in the field:

1.- Which are mechanisms that regulate the asymmetry of the division to finally render two different daughter cells? Our model system for answering this question are the embryonic and larval neuroblasts, the neural stem cells of the Drosophila central nervous system.

2.- Which are the mechanisms that control the “switch” between a symmetric to an asymmetric mode of cell division? Our model system for answering this question is the “Optic Lobe of the Drosophila larval brain”.

3.- Which are the connections between asymmetric cell division and tumorigenesis? Our model system are the type II neuroblasts of the Drosophila larval brain.

Representative Publications

Franco M. , and Carmena A. " Eph signaling controls mitotic spindle orientation and cell proliferation in neuroepithelial cells. " Journal of Cell Biology . DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201807157 , - ( 2019 )

Rives-Quinto, N. , Franco, M., de Torres-Jurado A., and Carmena, A. " Synergism between canoe and scribble mutations causes tumor-like overgrowth via Ras activation in neural stem cells and epithelia " Development . 144 , 2570 - 2583 ( 2017 )

Keder A, , Rives-Quinto, N., Aerne, B.L., Franco, M., Tapon, N., and Carmena, A. " The Hippo Pathway Core Cassette Regulates Asymmetric Cell Division. " Current Biology . 25 , 2739 - 2750 ( 2015 )

Carmena A.* , Makarova, A., Speicher, S. " The Rap1-Rgl-Ral signaling network regulates neuroblast cortical polarity and spindle orientation " Journal of Cell Biology . 195 (4) doi:10.1083/jcb.201108112 , 553 - 562 ( 2011 ) * Corresponding author

Speicher S. , Fischer A., Knoblich J., Carmena A. " The PDZ Protein Canoe Regulates the Asymmetric Division of Drosophila Neuroblasts and Muscle Progenitors " Current Biology . 18 doi:10.1016 , j.cub.2008.04.072 , 831 - 837 ( 2008 )
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas
Universidad Miguel Hernández

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