We use Drosophila to unveil the basic principles that govern cell proliferation and malignant growth. We model cancer in flies to understand the cellular changes that drive malignant growth and to identify conserved mechanisms that might be relevant for human cancer therapy. We make use of a multidisciplinary approach that combines genetics, genomics, molecular biology and advanced microscopy.
We focus on the mechanisms of malignant transformation in Drosophila larval brains. We have found that neural stem cells originate tumours when the delicately balanced process of self-renewing asymmetric division is disrupted.
We have found that some tumour types are driven by the ectopic expression of germline proteins.
We develop and make extensive use of advanced microscopy techniques. We have demonstrated that the microtubule cytoskeleton of Drosophila neural stem cells is governed by the distinct behaviour displayed by centrosomes in these cells. We have also investigated the molecular details of cilium assembly in Drosophila and have found that, as in humans, basal body fate is reserved to the mother centriole.
We maintain an active line of research to identify new centrosomal proteins and have found some with human orthologs that are linked to human pathologies.
We also work on the mechanisms that bring about genome instability in Drosophila tumours and attempt to establish the extent to which such lesions contribute to tumour progression.
"Bases moleculares del dimorfismo sexual en el crecimiento maligno" (DROSOSEX), cofinanciado por el Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades- Agencia Estatal de Investigacióny por el Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (FEDER) de la Unión Europea. Referencia: PGC2018-097372-B-I00
“The molecular basis of the contribution of germline functions to malignant growth in Drosophila somatic cells” (ONCOGERM), cofinanciado por el Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad - Agencia Estatal de Investigación y el Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (FEDER) de la Unión Europea. Referencia: BFU2015-66304-P (MINECO/FEDER, UE).