Emili Saló & Teresa Adell Lab

The research of our group focuses in understanding the molecular mechanism that allow the intercellular communication during planarian development. We currently develop two main projects: 1) Molecular nature of the planarian posterior organizer, and 2) Function of the Hippo pathway in restricting cell plasticity.


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Molecular nature of the planarian posterior organizer

Regeneration is an essential process in adult organisms that requires the production of new cells as well as the specification of the proper identity of the missing tissues. Organizing Centers instruct the fate, growth and pattern of surrounding cells in embryonic development, and they are also essential in regenerative processes, although in this context they have not been deeply studied. Our group has characterized fundamental elements of the anterior and the posterior regenerative organizers in adult planarians, mainly related with the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway, responsible to specify the regeneration of a head or a tail in the correct position (Iglesias et al 2008; Adell et al 2009; Sureda-Gomez et al 2015). We are currently performing an in deep analysis of the Posterior Organizing Center through a high throughput transcriptomic and genomics approach with the aim to understand the signaling network responsible for posterior identity specification and growth.



Function of the Hippo pathway in restricting cell plasticity

Growth control is fundamental to embryonic and adult development, and its dysfunction leads to human diseases as cancer. How do cells know when to divide, differentiate or die during normal adult development? To address these questions we use planarians, freshwater flatworms well known for their extraordinary ability to regenerate any part of its body and to change their size according to nutrients. This capacity is due to their population of totipotent stem cells in the adult stage, together with the sustained activation of developmental signals to ensure limited and proportionate growth.




Recent studies in our group have shown that inhibition of the Hippo pathway, responsible for growth control in Drosophila and vertebrates, produces tumoral overgrowths in planarians (de Sousa et al. 2018). According to our results, the molecular mechanism underlying the tumoral transformation is not an increase in cell proliferation but the increase in cell plasticity  mediated by Hippo downregulation.  We are currently investigating the role of Hippo downstream genes in regulating cell death, cell proliferation and maintenance of the differentiated fate. 



Planarian cell number depends on Blitzschnell, a novel gene family that balances cell proliferation and cell death. Pascual-Carreras E, Marin-Barba M, Herrera-Úbeda C, Font-Martín D, Eckelt K, de Sousa N, García-Fernández J, Saló E, Adell T.
Development 2020. doi: 10.1242/dev.184044. https://dev.biologists.org/content/early/2020/02/28/dev.184044.long.
Molecular impact of launch related dynamic vibrations and static hypergravity in planarians de Sousa N, Caporicci M,Vandersteen J, Rojo-Laguna JI, Saló E, Adell T, Auletta G & van LoonJack J.W.A.
npj Microgravity 2020. Vol. 6. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41526-020-00115-7.
Transcriptomic Analysis of Planarians under Simulated Microgravity or 8 g Demonstrates That Alteration of Gravity Induces Genomic and Cellular Alterations That Could Facilitate Tumoral Transformation. de Sousa N, Rodriguez-Esteban G, Colagè I, D'Ambrosio P, van Loon JJWA, Saló E, Adell T, Auletta G. Int J Mol Sci.  2019. Vol. 20. 10.3390/ijms20030720. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30743987.
Planarian organizers Sureda-Gomez M, Adell T. Semin Cell Dev Biol 2018. Vol. 17. Pag. 30195-7. . 10.1016/j.semcdb.2018.05.021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29802891.
Rebuilding a planarian: from early signaling to final shape Cebrià F, Adell T, Saló E International Journal of Developmental Biology 2018. Vol. 62. Pag. 537-550. doi: 10.1387/ijdb.180042es. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29938765.
Hippo signaling controls cell cycle and restricts cell plasticity in planarians. de Sousa N, Rodríguez-Esteban G, Rojo-Laguna JI, Saló E, Adell T. PLoS Biol. 2018. Vol. 16. 10.1371/journal.pbio.2002399. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29357350.
A C-terminally truncated form of β-catenin acts as a novel regulator of Wnt/β-catenin signaling in planarians. Su H, Sureda-Gomez M, Rabaneda-Lombarte N, Gelabert M, Xie J, Wu W, Adell T. 2017. Vol. 13. 10.1371/journal.pgen.1007030. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28976975.
The pioneer factor Smed-gata456-1 is required for gut cell differentiation and maintenance in planarians. González-Sastre A, De Sousa N, Adell T, Saló E. 2017. Vol. 61. Pag. 53-63. 10.1387/ijdb.160321es. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28287248.
Localization of planarian β-CATENIN-1 reveals multiple roles during anterior-posterior regeneration and organogenesis. Sureda-Gómez M, Martín-Durán JM, Adell T. 2016. Vol. 143. Pag. 4149-4160. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27737903.
Posterior Wnts Have Distinct Roles in Specification and Patterning of the Planarian Posterior Region. Sureda-Gómez M, Pascual-Carreras E, Adell T. Int J Mol Sci.  2015. Vol. 10. Pag. 253-65. 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.12.018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25558068.
Β-catenin-dependent control of positional information along the AP body axis in planarians involves a teashirt family member. Reuter H, März M, Vogg MC, Eccles D, Grífol-Boldú L, Wehner D, Owlarn S, Adell T, Weidinger G, Bartscherer K. Cell Rep. 2015. Vol. 10. Pag. 253-65. 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.12.018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25558068.


Principal Investigator

My main interest is to understand how cells communicate to orchestrate so wonderful creatures.

Principal Investigator

I am interested in cancer biology and cell differentiation processes. I would like to understand how mechanisms of trans

PhD student

I am interested in regeneration and developmental biology. In my master thesis I am trying to elucidate the molecular

PhD student

I am a postdoc researcher interested in the study of the role of cellular senescence during regeneration.

Postdoctoral Research Assistant

Former students

Maria Almuedo-Castillo

PhD student

Miquel Sureda Gomez

PhD student

Nidia de Sousa

PhD student

Marta Iglesias

PhD student

Ramon Barull

Master Student

Maria Rosselló

PhD student

Jose Ignacio Rojo

PhD student

Àlex Gonzàlez Sastre

PhD student

Eudald Pascual

PhD student