Gene Regulation, Stems Cells and Cancer

Reprogramming and Regeneration

Group Structure

Maria Pia Cosma (ICREA Research Professor)
Frederic Lluís
Daniela Sanges, Wassim Altarche, Karthik Arumugam, Lucia Marucci
Giacoma Simonte, Joao Frade, Elisa Pedone, Maria Aurelia Ricci, Francesco Aulicino, Francesco Sottile, Ilda Theka
Angel de Jaime
Vanessa Chiganças, Umberto Di Vicino, Maribel Muñoz, Neus Romo


In our group, we are investigating the mechanisms controlling the reprogramming of somatic cells and tissue regeneration with an emphasis on Wnt signaling pathway activity.  Whether reprogramming can occur in vivo in higher vertebrates and what the molecular mechanisms and genes driving reprogramming are remain to be defined. Activation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway enhances reprogramming of somatic cells after their fusion with stem cells. Remarkably, the activity of Wnt/β-catenin signaling also controls regeneration in response to damage in lower vertebrates. Our main goal is to investigate whether activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling controls tissue regeneration by enhancing cell-fusion-mediated reprogramming in tissues of higher vertebrates. Furthermore we are dissecting the molecular mechanisms and gene networks downstream of β-catenin, which are key in the process of reprogramming.
Sanges et al. Cell Reports, 2013 Sanges et al. Cell Reports, 2013

Research Projects

  • Dissecting Chromatin structure in stem cells and reprogrammed cells by super-resolution imaging
  • Dissecting early reprogramming events and factors through gene network analysis.
  • Studying function of Tcf factors in the control of ESC self renewal and somatic cell reprogramming.
  • Testing cell fusion mediated reprograming as regenerative therapy for Parkinson’s disease and for retinal degeneration disease, 
  • Investigating cell-fusion mediated regeneration of the liver.

Selected Publications

  1. Sanges D, Romo N, Simonte G, Di Vicino U, Tahoces AD, Fernández E, Cosma MP.
    “Wnt/β-catenin signaling triggers neuron reprogramming and regeneration in the mouse retina.”
    Cell Rep, 4(2):271-86 (2013).
  2. Lluis F, Cosma MP.
    “Resetting epigenetic signatures to induce somatic cell reprogramming.”
    Cell Mol Life Sci, 70(8):1413-24 (2013).