Cell and Developmental biology

Microtubule Function and Cell Division

Group Structure

Isabelle Vernos (ICREA Research Professor and member of the ERC Scientific Council)
Sylvain Meunier
Nathalie Brouwers, Mónica Rodríguez de la Vega, Maria Ana Gomez-Ferreria (until August)
Antonios Lioutas (until June), Jacopo Scrofani, Tommaso Cavazza, Miquel Rosas (since October)
Artur Ezquerra (until March)
Nuria Mallol Martínez, Leonor Ávila Goñi, Jacobo Cela Gallego


Research in my lab is directed at understanding the role of the microtubule network in cell organization and function. To address this question we study various microtubule-associated proteins (molecular motors and MAPs) and their regulators (kinases, phosphatases and the small GTPase Ran during M-phase). One major goal is to unravel how the self-organization of cellular components results in the morphogenesis of dynamic molecular machines like the bipolar spindle that provides the forces to move and segregate accurately the chromosomes during mitosis and meiosis.

Our favourite experimental system is the Xenopus egg extract system for studies on cell cycle progression and regulation, microtubule dynamics, spindle assembly and chromosome behaviour (Karsenti and Vernos, 2001). We combine it with the use of human tissue culture cells in which we validate some of the results obtained in egg extract.

Figure 1 Figure 1

Research Projects

  • Mechanism of RanGTP dependent microtubule assembly (S Meunier, J Scrofani, AM Gomez-Ferreria, A Ezquerra, M Rosas)
  • Identification and functional characterization of tubulin modifications during mitosis (M Rodriguez)
  • Dynamics of spindle assembly (T Cavazza)
  • Function and regulation of Hklp2/Kif15 during mitosis (N Brouwers)
  • Regulation of MT nucleation and spindle organization by phosphorylation (R Pinyol, J Scrofani, A Lioutas)

Figure 2 Figure 2

Selected Publications

  1. Pinyol R, Scroffani J and Vernos I.
    “The role of NEDD1 phosphorylation by Aurora A in chromosomal microtubule nucleation and spindle function.”
    Current Biology, 23(2):143-9 (2013).
  2. Dos Santos HG, Abia D, Janowski R, Mortuza G, Bertero MG, Boutin M, Guarín N, Méndez-Giraldez R, Nuñez A, Pedrero JG, Redondo P, Sanz M, Speroni S, Teichert F, Bruix M, Carazo JM, Gonzalez C, Reina J, Valpuesta JM, Vernos I, Zabala JC, Montoya G, Coll M, Bastolla U, Serrano L.
    “Structure and non-structure of centrosomal proteins.”
    PLoS One, 8(5):e62633. (2013).
  3. Vernos I.
    “Research management: Quotas are questionable.”
    Nature, 495(7439):39 (2013).
  4. Lioutas A and Vernos I.
    “Aurora A kinase and its substrate TACC3 are required for central spindle assembly.”
    EMBO Rep, 14(9):829-36 (2013).