Francesc Cebrià Lab

Grup de recerca  Cebrià

Planarian stem cells, the neoblasts, include truly pluripotent stem cells as well as a number of specialized neoblasts or lineage-committed progenitors from which all cell types differentiate. Thus, they offer an excellent model in which to study stem cell differentiation in vivo. However, very little is known about how pluripotent neoblasts specialize into lineage-committed progenitors and how these progenitors differentiate into their final mature types. In our laboratory we are interested in investigating the molecular and genetic pathways that regulate stem cell differentiation during planarian regeneration and homeostasis. 






Stem cells maintenance and differentiation


Epigenetic marks such as histone methylation and acetylation regulate the fate of stem cells by maintaining them in an undifferentiated state or triggering cell differentiation when required. However, little is known about the epigenetic regulation of planarian neoblasts. Is this epigenetic regulation conserved in these amazing animals? How does the epigenetic landscape change as neoblasts specialize into lineage-comitted progenitors first and mature cell types later? Our current approach is mainly focussed in understanding the role of the CREB-binding protein (CBP)/p300 family in the regulation of neoblast maintenance and differentiation. Members of this family are multi-functional proteins with histone acetyl-transferase activity that acetylate particular histone residues in order to regulate stem cell and progenitors differentiation in different models. Therefore, planarians offer us a model in which to study the epigenetic regulation of stem cells in vivo.


Signaling pathways play pivotal roles in triggering proper cell responses to extracellular signals. In the last years we have extensively characterized the function of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signalling pathway in neoblast differentiation during planarian regeneration and homesotasis. Our laboratory has identified 10 putative EGF ligands and 6 EGF receptors that are expressed in different cell types. Whereas Smed-egfr-1 and Smed-nrg-1 are required for the final differentiation of gut progenitors into mature gut cells, Smed-egfr-4 seems to be required for the differentiation of eye progenitor into eye cels. These results suggest that in planarians the EGFR pathway could have a general role in the terminal differentiation of the distinct populations of lineage-committed progenitors.

Stem cells (in red) in the mesenchymal space around the gut branches (in green)


Planarians are here to stay and to teach us a lot on regeneration Cebrià, F. Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology 2019. Vol. 87. Pag. 1-2. 10.1016/j.semcdb.2018.08.001.
The role of the EGFR signaling pathway in stem cell differentiation during planarian regeneration and homeostasis Barberán, S.; Cebrià, F. Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology 2019. Vol. 87. Pag. 45-57. 10.1016/j.semcdb.2018.05.011.
Smed-egfr-4 is required for planarian eye regeneration Emili, E.; Pallarès, M.; Romero, R.; Cebrià, F. The International Journal of Developmental Biology 2019. Vol. 63. Pag. 9-15. 10.1387/ijdb.180361fc.
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.
Immunohistochemistry on paraffin-embedded planarian tissue sections Adell, T.; Barberán, S.; Sureda-Gómez,M.; Almuedo-Castillo, M.; de Sousa, N.; Cebrià, F. Methods in Molecular Biology 2018. Vol. 1774. Pag. 367-378. 10.1007/978-1-4939-7802-1_11.
Analyzing pERK activation during planarian regeneration Fraguas, S.; Umesono, Y.; Agata, K.; Cebrià, F. Methods in Molecular Biology 2017. Vol. 1487. Pag. 303-315. 10.1007/978-1-4939-6424-6_23.
Evolution of the EGFR pathway in Metazoa and its diversification in the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea Barberán, S.; Martín-Durán, J.M.; Cebrià, F. Scientific Reports 2016. Vol. 6. Pag. 28071. 10.1038/srep28071.
The EGFR signaling pathway controls gut progenitor differentiation during planarian regeneration and homeostasis Barberán, S.; Fraguas, S.; Cebrià, F. Development 2016. Vol. 143. Pag. 2089-2102. 10.1242/dev.131995.
Planarian body-wall muscle: regeneration and function beyond a simple skeletal support Cebrià, F. Frontiers in Cell & Developmental Biology 2016. Vol. 4. Pag. 8. 10.3389/fcell.2016.00008.
Reactive oxygen species in planarian regeneration: an upstream necessity for correct patterning and brain formation Pirotte, N.; Stevens, A.S.; Fraguas, S.; Plusquin, M.; Van Roten, A.; Van Belleghem, F.; Paesen, R.; Ameloot, M.; Cebrià, F.; Artois, T.; Smeets, K. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity 2015. Vol. 2015. Pag. 392476. 10.1155/2015/392476.
egr-4, a target of EGFR signaling, is required for the formation of the brain primordia and head regeneration in planarians Fraguas, S.; Barberán, S.; Iglesias, M.; Rodríguez-Esteban, G.; Cebrià, F. Development 2014. Vol. 141. Pag. 1835-1847. 10.1242/dev.101345.
Regeneration of neuronal cell types in Schmidtea mediterranea: an immunohistochemical and expression study Fraguas, S.; Barberán, S.; Ibarra, B.; Stöger, L.; Cebrià, F. The International Journal of Developmental Biology 2012. Vol. 56. Pag. 143-153. 10.1387/ijdb.113428sf.
Organizing the DV axis during planarian regeneration Molina, M.D.; Saló, E.; Cebrià, F. Communicative & integrative biology 2011. Vol. 4. Pag. 498-500. 10.4161/cib.4.4.15753.
EGFR signaling regulates cell proliferation, differentiation and morphogenesis during planarian regeneration and homeostasis Fraguas, S.; Barberán, S.; Cebrià, F. Developmental Biology 2011. Vol. 354. Pag. 87-101. 10.1016/j.ydbio.2011.03.023.
Noggin and noggin-like genes control dorsoventral axis regeneration in planarians Molina, M.D.; Neto, A.; Maeso, I.; Gómez-Skarmeta, J.L.; Saló, E.; Cebrià, F. Current Biology 2011. Vol. 21. Pag. 300-305. 10.1016/j.cub.2011.01.016.
The planarian flatworm: an in vivo model for stem cell biology and nervous system regeneration Gentile, L.; Cebrià, F.; Bartscherer, K. Disease Models & Mechanisms 2011. Vol. 4. Pag. 12-19. 10.1242/dmm.006692.
Smed454 dataset: unravelling the transcriptome of Schmidtea mediterranea Abril, J.F.; Cebrià, F.; Rodríguez-Esteban, G.; Horn, T.; Fraguas, S.; Calvo, B.; Bartscherer, K.; Saló, E. BMC Genomics 2010. Vol. 11. Pag. 731. 10.1186/1471-2164-11-731.
The use of lectins as markers for differentiated secretory cells in planarians Zayas, R.M.; Cebrià, F.; Guo, T.; Feng, J.; Newmark, P.A. Developmental Dynamics 2010. Vol. 239. Pag. 2888-2897. 10.1002/dvdy.22427.
Gradients in planarian regeneration and homeostasis Adell, T.; Cebrià, F.; Saló, E. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology 2010. Vol. 2. Pag. a000505. 10.1101/cshperspect.a000505.
Planarian regeneration: achievements and future directions after 20 years of research Saló, E.; Abril, J.F.; Adell, T.; Cebrià, F.; Eckelt, K.; Fernández-Taboada, E.; Handberg-Thorsager, M.; Iglesias, M.; Molina, M.D.; Rodríguez-Esteban, G. The International Journal of Developmental Biology 2009. Vol. 53. Pag. 1317-1327. 10.1387/ijdb.072414es.


I am a Biologist and Professor at the Faculty of Biology of the University of Barcelona. I have been fascinated by
Principal Investigator

I started in Francesc Cebrià´s Lab ten years ago, first as an undergraduate student and where, afterwards, I carried out
Postdoctoral Research Assistant
Undergraduate Student
Beatriu de Pinós-Marie Curie Sklodowska COFUND Postdoctoral Fellow

Former students

Coral Vivancos Launes

Master Student
Undergraduate Student

Jordi Ginés

Undergraduate Student

Sheila Cárcel

Master Student
Undergraduate Student

Gemma Cardona

Undergraduate Student

Mireia Vaca

Master Student

Sara Barberán

PhD student
Master Student

Adrià Peleato

Master Student
Undergraduate Student

Macià Pallarès

Master Student

Irene Iglesias

Undergraduate Student

Francina Mesquida

Undergraduate Student

Mª Dolores Molina

PhD student

Nieves Ruiz

Master Student

Oriol Iborra

Undergraduate Student

Gemma Madero

Undergraduate Student

Arnau Sellarés

Master Student

Sebastián Yurrita

Master Student

Marc van der Hofstadt

Undergraduate Student

Carol Zapater

Undergraduate Student

Begoña Ibarra

Master Student

Linda Stöger

ERASMUS Undergraduate Lab Training