Area 5

Molecular Biology of reproduction and development

Team leader

  • Rafael Oliva
    (Hospital Clínic - UB)

Strategic objectives

The mechanisms involved in cell differentiation during reproduction and development, endocrine disorders and cancer cell progression and regression are the main objectives of our research group.

Main lines of research

  1. Genomics, proteomics and epigenetics of the germinal cell line. We have contributed towards characterisation of the complete human sperm proteome as a step to further understand the function and basic mechanisms operating in the sperm cell and to enable translational research in male infertility. A particular focus has been placed in sperm chromatin were we have detected the presence of a differential distribution of the genes and proteins potentially involved in regulatory roles after fertilization, and detected altered proteomic chromatin signatures in infertile patients indicating potential involved in early embryo development.
  2. Genetics of endocrine disorders. Our research interests involve the study of the genetic aspects of hereditary endocrine disorders (multiple endocrine neoplasia, congenital adrenal hyperplasia and monogenic diabetes). Of relevance we are a reference centre in our country in the molecular genetic diagnosis of these disorders, which allows us to collect rare clinical cases in which the genetic study usually provides novel insights to understand the causes of these endocrine diseases. Our interest also contribute to a better understanding of the genotype-phenotype correlations in these syndromes by studying newly discovered genes and genetic variants.
  3. Mechanisms involved in redifferentiation of cancer cells. We are interested in the study of the mechanisms involved in retinoic acid induction of cancer cell differentiation. Upon treatment with this molecule, we have reported downregulation of the Notch-3 signaling pathway and upregulation of the microRNA miR-200c in highly invasive breast cancer cells. In addition, we study the mechanisms involved in the chemoresistant phenotype of colon cancer cells.