Chromatin Structure and Function
Genomic functions take place in chromatin, not in naked DNA. In recent years, our knowledge about the regulation of chromatin functions has improved thanks to the identification of components and mechanisms that modify its structural and functional properties, such as remodelling complexes, histone modifications (acetylation, methylation...) and the corresponding enzymes, histone variants that localise to specific genomic loci, structural non-histone proteins that contribute to the structural properties of specific chromatin regions (heterochromatin), among others. Our research focuses on the study of the epigenetic mechanisms that regulate chromatin structure and function in health and disease.
I. Centromere structure and function. We seek to determine the structural and functional properties of centromeric chromatin and its contribution to chromosome segregation and mitosis progression.
II. Linker histones H1. We study the contribution of linker histones H1 to the epigenetic regulation of chromatin structure and function during development and differentiation.
III. 3D genome structure.We study the tridimensional organization of chromatin and its role in the regulation of genome stability and function.
IV. Epigenetics of breast cancer. We study the mechanisms involved in breast cancer progression using cell lines and 3D tumor spheroids, which are able to accurately mimic some features of solid tumors. We pay particular attention to the signaling pathways, kinases, long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), chromatin remodeling and DNA repair machineries, and changes in 3D chromatin organization that may be involved in the regulation of key genes central to the process of cell dedifferentiation and cancer. We are also interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms by which estrogens and progesterone induce cell proliferation in breast cancer cells.