Hospital del Mar Research Institute Hospital del Mar Research Institute

Molecular Mechanisms of tumorigenesis Pilar Navarro


Epigenetic mechanisms of transcriptional regulation involved in cellular differentiation and transformation. Imma Hernández-Muñoz

Cancer is intimately related to the process of development and growth. Every gene implicated in the progression to a cancerous phenotype plays a fundamental role during embryo growth and development. Genes that regulate these processes are important targets of research to understand differences in the control of gene expression between normal and cancer cells. Although the importance of genetic mutations in cancer has long been recognized, the role of epigenetic events, that lead to changes in gene expression without changes in DNA sequence through different mechanisms, has been suggested more recently.

There are different epigenetic mechanisms, such as DNA methylation, histone modifications, and RNA mediated transcriptional regulation, that seem to act in a coordinated manner to properly set the transcriptional patterns for specific cell lineages. Our lab is focused on the study of the PcG proteins. This family of epigenetic silencers makes an essential contribution to the cell plasticity state by repressing the expression of differentiation genes in a manner flexible enough to be reversed later by gene-specific and lineage-specific signals.

Classic studies of transdetermination in Drosophila demonstrated that all cell fates, not just stem cells, may depend on the continued operation of PcG genes. Therefore, understanding the control of cell-state programming might allow us to further stabilize normal cellular states or facilitate the conversion of one cellular state into another in pathologic situations.


To investigate the role of Polycomb in epithelial plasticity and transformation related processes. In particular, we are currently working in two experimental models: 

  • Mammary gland epithelium. 
  • Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

Almudena Bosch, Imma Hernández-Muñoz and Carles Martínez

Contact: Dra. Imma Hernández-Muñoz, mhernandez(ELIMINAR) Tel. (+34) 93 316 04 21 Fax (+34) 93 316 04 10

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