Molecular MedicineTranslational control of cell cycle and differentiation

Translational control of cell cycle and differentiation

Recent years have seen a paradigm shift in our understanding of gene activity and regulation. It is now clear that processing of primary transcripts as well as translational control open a myriad of opportunities for gene regulation, which are extensively used in virtually every human gene. However, how these events are regulated and how alterations of these finely tuned processes contribute to physio/pathological processes is not yet well understood.

The primary interest of our group has been to understand the molecular mechanisms that dictate alternative 3’ UTR formation and the temporal and spatial translational control of specific mRNAs during cell cycle progression and chromosome segregation, senescence and related pathologies. Cell cycle progression is programmed, at least in part, by stored silent mRNAs. These mRNAs are not translated en masse at any one time, or even at any one place; rather, their translation is specifically regulated by sequences located at their 3´-untranslated regions (3´-UTRs) and their binding proteins.

Our work focuses on four main lines of research:

First, to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the translational control by cytoplasmic polyadenylation cis-acting elements and trans-acting factors:
1) Genome-wide identification of the mRNAs that are regulated by nuclear and cytoplasmic changes in their poly(A) tail length;
2) Determination of the configuration of cis-acting elements that define the temporal and spatial translational regulation;
3) Functional and structural characterization of the ribonucleoprotein (RNPs) complexes that mediate this translational regulation.

Second, to obtain insights in how this translational control circuit regulates cell cycle progression by establishing a molecular circuit, stabilized by positive and negative feed-back loops to generate an irreversible self sustain hysteric system with molecular memory and switch-like phase transitions.

Third, to explore the role of these mRNA processing and translation mechanisms in the reprogramming of gene expression in tumoral events and angiogenesis and the development of tools with prognostic and therapeutic value.

Forth, to study the symmetric distribution of cellular components (research directed by Oriol Gallego, see
1)A comparative analysis of Multisubunit Tethering Complexes
2)Characterize the interplay between the transport of vesicles and mRNA localization

Bava FA, Eliscovich C, Ferreira PG, Miñana B, Ben-Dov C, Guigó R, Valcárcel J and Méndez R.
Nature, 495 (7439), 121-5 (2013)
Weill L, Belloc E, Bava FA and Méndez R.
Nat Struct Mol Biol, 19 (6), 577-85 (2012)
Fernández-Miranda G and Méndez R.
Ageing Res Rev, 11 (4), 460-72 (2012)
Ortiz-Zapater E, Pineda D, Martínez-Bosch N, Fernández-Miranda G, Iglesias M, Alameda F, Moreno M, Eliscovich C, Eyras E, Real FX, Méndez R and Navarro P.
Nat Med, 18 (1), 83-90 (2011)

  • AICR (Association for International Cancer Research)
  • ICREA (Catalan Institute of Research and Advanced Studies)
  • Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation)
  • AGAUR (Agència de Gestió d’Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca)


Group news & mentions

22 Sep 2015

This year the Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer (AECC)(Spanish Association against Cancer) is granting 6.7 million euros to fund four cutting-edge research projects.

1 Sep 2015

Raúl Méndez, ICREA researcher and group leader of the Translational Control of Cell Cycle and Differentiation Laboratory at IRB Barcelona, has participated in a study led by Marcos Malumbres, from

1 Jun 2014

Report on the main approaches being developed by top Spanish scientists of international standing to find new therapeutic options against cancer.

16 Feb 2014

"La Vanguardia" journalist Josep Corbella holds a long interview with IRB Barcelona researcher

Upcoming events

13 Oct

Design Thinking by Mathieu Carenzo, IESE Lecturer and Partner at Venture Hub


14 Oct

Speaker: Fernando Giraldez, Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF-PRBB)

14 Oct

Speaker: Sandra Blanco, PhD
Research Associate - Wellcome Trust / Medical Research Council Stem Cell Institute, Cambridge – United Kingdom


18 Oct

The ARS Symposium takes place every two years with the goal of promoting the interactions within the ARS research laboratories and with the rest of RNA research community, both in research labs and in industry. The focus of the meeting is on the evolution, structure, function and biotechnology of ARS, and their canonical and non-canonical roles in health and disease.