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Research Group
Cell movements in development and disease
Unit Unit Developmental Neurobiology »

Principal Investigator Associated Investigators Ph.D. Investigator Graduate students Technician Administration
Research Fields
The Snail superfamily of zinc-finger transcription factors is involved in crucial processes, both during embryonic development and tumour progression. Our group has been devoted the study of this gene family for more than twelve years and we are responsible for the isolation of many family members in different vertebrate species including humans. Our previous work showed their involvement in the development of the mesoderm and the neural crest, and in the acquisition of invasive and migratory properties in tumours, through the conversion of epithelial cells into mesenchymal cells (EMT). We have also shown that Snail genes confer survival properties, attenuate cell proliferation and participate in cell movements in contexts that can be independent of the triggering of the EMT.

Recently, we have identified a new gene family, the Scratch genes, integrated into the superfamily. In contrast to the Snail genes, Scratch genes do not seem to participate in processes involving mesenchymal cells (either of mesodermal or neural crest origin), but rather they show a specific pattern of expression in the differentiating central nervous system.

Our functional analysis of this superfamily includes the regulation of its expression and function by the signals that activate the different family members and those that control their subcellular localization. Our experimental approaches include transgenic mice (conditional active or dominant-negative Snail models), loss and gain of function experiments in mouse, chick and zebrafish (electroporation in ovo and in organotypic cultures, mRNA and "morpholino", etc.) and the use of cell lines and primary cultures to get further insight into the mechanism of action, inductive signals and the corresponding targets.


Representative Publications

Grande M.T. , Sanchez-Laorden B.L., Lopez-Blau, C., De Frutos, C.A., Boutet, A., Rowe, G., Weiss, S. J., Lopez-Novoa, J.M. and Nieto, M.A. " Snail1-induced partial epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition drives renal fibrosis in mice and can be targeted to reverse established disease " Nat. Med . 21 , 989 - 997 ( 2015 )

Nieto MA. , " Epithelial plasticity: a common theme in embryonic and cancer cells. " Science . 342 , - 1234850 ( 2013 )

Mingot JM. , Vega S., Cano A., Portillo F. and Nieto MA. " eEF1A mediates the nuclear export of SNAG-containing proteins via the Exportin5-aatRNA complex. " Cell Rep . 5 , 727 - 737 ( 2013 )

Ocaña OH. , Córcoles, R., Fabra, A., Moreno-Bueno, G., Acloque, H., Vega, S., Barrallo-Gimeno, A., Cano, A. and Nieto, M.A. " Metastatic colonization requires the repression of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition inducer Prrx1. " Cancer Cell . 22 , 709 - 724 ( 2012 )

Acloque, H. , Ocaña, O.H., Matheu, A., Rizzoti, K., Wise,C., Lovell-Badge, R. and Nieto, M.A. " Reciprocal repression between Sox3 and Snail transcription factors defines embryonic territories at gastrulation. " Dev. Cell . 21 , 546 - 558 ( 2011 )
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Universidad Miguel Hernández

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