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Research Group
Signaling Networks Underlying Asymmetric Cell Division
Unit Unit Developmental Neurobiology »

Laboratory Web Unit

Principal Investigator Ph.D. Investigator Graduate students / Research Assistant Technician
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 cellular 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. Specifically, we are interested in studying and contributing to answering three fundamental questions in the field:

1.- 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”.

2.- 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.

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

The Approach: Today it has become apparent that signal transduction pathways are not mere linear cascades. Conversely, they are organized into complex Signaling Networks. 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 are excellent candidates as hubs of cross-talk between signaling pathways. Hence, we analyze the function of PDZ proteins, including the protein Canoe/Afadin, as signal integrators within signaling networks during asymmetric cell division. We achieve our research integrating Genetic, Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Proteomic techniques.

Representative Publications

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 . http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.08.064 , - ( 2015 )

Pérez-Gómez, R. , Slováková, J., Rives-Quinto, N., Krejci, A. and Carmena, A. " A Serrate-Notch-Canoe complex mediates essential interactions between glia and neuroepithelial cells during Drosophila optic lobe development. " Journal of Cell Science . 126 , 4873 - 4884 ( 2013 )

Slováková J. , Speicher S., Sánchez-Soriano N., Prokop A., Carmena A. " The Actin-Binding Protein Canoe/AF-6 Forms a Complex with Robo and Is Required for Slit-Robo Signaling during Axon Pathfinding at the CNS Midline " J. Neurosci. . 32(39) , 10035 - 10044 ( 2012 )

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 )
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