Control Genético del Desarrollo y Regeneración de Órganos

Our work focuses on two areas: the role of transcription factors in cardiovascular development and regeneration, and the development of new genetic models to study the cellular basis of organ morphogenesis and regeneration.

In the first area, we have generated gain- and loss-of-function mouse models of the homeodomain trancription factors Meis and Pbx, revealing new roles for these factors in cardiovascular development. These studies have identified a new morphogenetic role for platelets during lymphangiogenesis, and further suggest a general role for platelets in vascular morphogenesis and remodeling that might be relevant to vascular disease. Our work on heart regeneration focuses on the epicardium, the outermost layer of the vertebrate heart, which plays an important role during cardiac development as a source of progenitor cells and signals controlling myocardial proliferation. A role for the epicardium in regeneration has also been suggested, but its exact function here is still unkown. Using the zebrafish model system we are analyzing the formation of the epicardium in vivo and generating tools to study the fate of epicardium derived cells and their role during cardiac regeneration.

We have developed two new strategies for analyzing morphogenesis. In one, an in vivo clonal analysis is being used to define cell lineage and topological relationships among cardiovascular lineages during embryonic development and adult homeostasis. The second strategy allows the generation of random genetic mosaics and has allowed us to demonstrate the role of cell competition in the early mouse embryo as a driving force for the maintenance of cell quality in stem cell pools.

Regarding scientific networks, Miguel Torres is a principal researcher of a Marie Curie International Training Network: CardioNeT. In addition, his group participates in the RETICS TERCEL network.