Epigenetics of cell differentiation and cancer

Miguel Angel Peinado
Mònica Suelves

The main focus of our research is the characterization of the molecular mechanisms underlying cancer cell programs and the identification of molecular markers with clinical applications.

The main focus of our research is the characterization of the epigenetic changes, which take place normally during muscle lineage-commitment, cell activation and terminal differentiation, which can be altered in muscle pathologies such as muscular dystrophies and rhabdomyosarcomas.

Group Members

Miguel Angel Peinado, Group Leader
Mònica Suelves, Associate Investigator

Érica Hurtado, Postdoctoral Investigator
Berta Martín, Technician
Júlia Matas, predoctoral Investigator
Mar Muñoz, Technician
Núria Seguí, Post-doctoral Investigator

Research lines

Principal Investigator: Miguel Angel Peinado

  • Chromatin architecture in cell differentiation and cancer. Cell's properties are determined by programs regulating gene expression. We are investigating the chromatin structure and organization of normal and cancer cells and the mechanisms determining long range interactions and genome compartmentalization.
  • The role of repeat elements in genome structure and function. About half of the human genome is composed by repeat sequences. Their function is largely unknown and most genome-scale studies disregard their analysis due to technical limitations. We are investigating the contribution of some of these elements to genome regulation in normal and cancer cells.
  • Clinically oriented research on the epigenetic changes involved in human cancer. Initiation and progression of cancer disease is accompanied by multiple molecular changes, including epigenetic alterations. We devote a large effort to develop or adapt molecular techniques to clinical settings with the aim of translating science progress in a better management of the disease, with a special focus on colorectal cancer.

As a direct outcome of our efforts to contribute to the advance of Genomic Medicine, our group created Aniling, a spin-off of the IGTP focused on the improvement of next generation genomic technologies to integrate molecular data into biologically and clinically meaningful information. Moreover, we have also developed bioinformatic tools to facilitate the access to molecular data generated with the most advanced technologies to scientists and clinicians (see more information and our on-line tools here http://maplab.cat).

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View publications, Peinado MA on PubMed

Associate Investigator: Mònica Suelves

  • DNA methylation dynamics during muscle lineage-commitment, cell activation and terminal differentiation. DNA methylation is an essential epigenetic modification in mammalians and it has been traditionally considered as a permanent silencing mark important for cellular differentiation and identity. However, recent studies have revealed that DNA methylation is more dynamic than originally thought as active DNA demethylation has been observed during cellular differentiation. Interestingly, there are increasing evidences linking transcription factors (TFs) with epigenetic regulation during cell differentiation pointing out a crucial role for lineage-specific TFs in chromatin remodelling. In this line, we have shown a common Pax7-mediated muscle-specific DNA demethylation signature required to acquire and maintain the muscle-cell identity, and the underlying molecular mechanism is being investigated.

  • Role of HDAC11 in muscle regeneration.  Epigenetic modifications are crucial to understand cellular differentiation processes and cellular functions. Our laboratory has identified Hdac11 as a histone deacetylase highly expressed in quiescent muscle stem cells and differentiating myotubes, but not in proliferating myoblasts. HDAC11 could be a new epigenetic regulator in muscle differentiation and regeneration and it function during the myogenic process is being investigated.
  • Epigenetic changes in muscle pathologies.  Epigenetic alterations have profound effects on human pathologies, since histone modifications and DNA methylation influence gene expression. In the laboratory, we are characterizing epigenetic changes that could be altered in muscle pathologies such as muscular dystrophies and rhabdomyosarcomas.

SELECTED Publications Suelves M

View publications for Suelves M, on PubMed NCBI