OncologyStem cells and cancer

Stem cells and cancer
<p>Aznar Benitah</p>
Group Leader

ICREA Research Professor, ERC Starting Grant

+34 93 40 34021

Adult stem cells ensure maintenance of the tissue and integrity in response to damage. They self-renew, are multipotential, and respond to and repair injuries. The skin and other stratified epithelia as model tissues display a high turnover rate, and contain well-defined populations of adult stem cells (SCs). A key feature of SCs is that they localize to specialized niches, where they remain unspecified but sense the needs of the tissue. Constant tissue replenishment drives a SCs to proliferate, the daughter cells to egress the niche, propagate, and terminally differentiate. Niche adherence, dormancy, activation, and exit, must be finely regulated processes, since loss of this tight control is causative of aging, and the onset and progression of squamous cell carcinomas.

Our global aim is to characterize the molecular pathways that regulate the behaviour of normal stem cells during homeostasis, and how they become deregulated during carcinogenesis and ageing.

stem cells

Epidermal stem cells from mouse tail skin visualized by wholemount 3D immunostaining: Left panel shows epidermal stem cells marked with BrDU (Label Retaining Cells); Middle and right panels Show expression of keratin-15 and high expression of integrin alpha6, respectively.

We are interested in studying the following questions:

  • What intrinsic (cell autonomous) mechanisms regulate adult stem cell function, and how are they deregulated during ageing and cancer?
  • How do adult stem cells communicate with their local environment (i.e. niche) and how is the system coordinated to dictate stem cell function?
  • What systemic cues communicate with adult stem cells and how do distant adult stem cells either from the same tissue or from different tissues coordinate their function at the level of the whole organism?
  • How does deregulation of pathways that control stem cell behaviour contribute to the maintenance and invasive progression of skin and oral squamous cell carcinomas (SCC)? Is there cancer stem cell heterogeneity in human SCC? If so, what is its significance?

We use a combination of conditional mouse models, primary cell culture (human and mouse), live microscopy, highthroughput genomics and proteomics approaches, and basic molecular biology.

Sato S, Solanas G, Peixoto FO, Bee L, Symeonidi A, Schmidt MS, Brenner C, Masri S, Benitah SA and Sassone-Corsi P.
Cell, 170 (4), 664-677.e1 (2017)
Solanas G, Peixoto FO, Perdiguero E, Jardí M, Ruiz-Bonilla V, Datta D, Symeonidi A, Castellanos A, Welz PS, Caballero JM, Sassone-Corsi P, Muñoz-Cánoves P and Benitah SA.
Cell, 170 (4), 678-692.e2 (2017)
Rinaldi L, Avgustinova A, Martín M, Datta D, Solanas G, Prats N and Benitah SA.
Elife, 6 (2017)
Pascual G, Avgustinova A, Mejetta S, Martín M, Castellanos A, Attolini CS, Berenguer A, Prats N, Toll A, Hueto JA, Bescós C, Di Croce L and Benitah SA.
Nature, 541 (7635), 41-45 (2017)
Janich P, Toufighi K, Solanas G, Luis NM, Minkwitz S, Serrano L, Lehner B and Benitah SA.
Cell Stem Cell, 13 (6), 745-53 (2013)
Luis N, Morey L, Di Croce L, Benitah SA
Cell Stem Cell, 1 (11), 16-21 (2012)

This group is financially supported by the following:

  • Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (MINECO)
  • European Commission (EC), Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (FEDER), "Una manera de hacer Europa"

     

Group news & mentions

<p>Salvador Aznar Benitah leads the Stem cells and cancer lab at IRB Barcelona</p>
25 Jul 2018

The agency SINC has interviewed Salvador Aznar Benitah, head of the Stem Cell and Cancer Lab at IRB Barcelona, about his work at the centre, but mainly on the research he does on metastasis and its

<p>Salvador Aznar Benitah, head of the IRB Barcelona group "Stem Cells and Cancer". (Photo: Battista-Minocri, IRB)</p>
22 Jun 2018

"Longitud de Onda", a programme on Radio Clásica, has interviewed Salvador Aznar Benitah, head of the Stem Cell and Cancer Lab at IRB Barcelona, and Xavier Trepat from IBEC, about similarities betw

<p>Salvador Aznar Benitah and Xavier Trepat. Image: La Vanguardia</p>
14 Jun 2018

The newspaper La Vanguardia has devoted an article to the two Spanish researchers who have become members of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) this year, namely the biologist Salva

<p>Salvador Aznar Benitah, head of the Stem Cells and Cancer laboratory at IRB Barcelona</p>
12 Jun 2018

TV3 has reported on the researchers who received the 12 million euros raised in TV3’s 2012 Marató.

Upcoming events

04 Oct
Aula Fèlix Serratosa, Parc Científic de Barcelona
Speaker:
Andre Nussenzweig, Ph.D. NIH Distinguished Investigator. Center for Cancer Research National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, Maryland (US)
05 Oct
Aula Fèlix Serratosa, Parc Científic de Barcelona
15 Nov
Aula Fèlix Serratosa, Parc Científic de Barcelona
Speaker:
Louis Vermeulen MD, PhD. Center for Experimental and Molecular Medicine, Academic Medical Center. Amsterdam. The Netherlands