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1.  The pluripotency factor NANOG promotes the formation of squamous cell carcinomas 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:10205.
NANOG is a key pluripotency factor in embryonic stem cells that is frequently expressed in squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs). However, a direct link between NANOG and SCCs remains to be established. Here, we show that inducible overexpression of NANOG in mouse skin epithelia favours the malignant conversion of skin papillomas induced by chemical carcinogenesis, leading to increased SCC formation. Gene expression analyses in pre-malignant skin indicate that NANOG induces genes associated to epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Some of these genes are directly activated by NANOG, including EMT-associated genes Zeb1, Zeb2, Twist1, Prrx1 and miR-21. Finally, endogenous NANOG binds to the promoters of theses genes in human SCC cells and, moreover, NANOG induces EMT features in primary keratinocytes. These results provide in vivo evidence for the oncogenic role of NANOG in squamous cell carcinomas.
PMCID: PMC4437308  PMID: 25988972
2.  Nuclear DICKKOPF-1 as a biomarker of chemoresistance and poor clinical outcome in colorectal cancer 
Oncotarget  2015;6(8):5903-5917.
Sporadic colorectal cancer (CRC) insurgence and progression depend on the activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Dickkopf (DKK)-1 is an extracellular inhibitor of Wnt/β-catenin signaling that also has undefined β-catenin-independent actions. Here we report for the first time that a proportion of DKK-1 locates within the nucleus of healthy small intestine and colon mucosa, and of CRC cells at specific chromatin sites of active transcription. Moreover, we show that DKK-1 regulates several cancer-related genes including the cancer stem cell marker aldehyde dehydrogenase 1A1 (ALDH1A1) and Ral-binding protein 1-associated Eps domain-containing 2 (REPS2), which are involved in detoxification of chemotherapeutic agents. Nuclear DKK-1 expression is lost along CRC progression; however, it remains high in a subset (15%) of CRC patients (n = 699) and associates with decreased progression-free survival (PFS) after chemotherapy administration and overall survival (OS) [adjusted HR, 1.65; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.23-2.21; P = 0.002)]. Overexpression of ALDH1A1 and REPS2 associates with nuclear DKK-1 expression in tumors and correlates with decreased OS (P = 0.001 and 0.014) and PFS. In summary, our findings demonstrate a novel location of DKK-1 within the cell nucleus and support a role of nuclear DKK-1 as a predictive biomarker of chemoresistance in colorectal cancer.
PMCID: PMC4467410  PMID: 25788273
Colorectal cancer; Dickkopf-1; chemoresistance; ALDH1A1; biomarker
3.  The contribution of cohesin-SA1 to gene expression and chromatin architecture in two murine tissues 
Nucleic Acids Research  2015;43(6):3056-3067.
Cohesin, which in somatic vertebrate cells consists of SMC1, SMC3, RAD21 and either SA1 or SA2, mediates higher-order chromatin organization. To determine how cohesin contributes to the establishment of tissue-specific transcriptional programs, we compared genome-wide cohesin distribution, gene expression and chromatin architecture in cerebral cortex and pancreas from adult mice. More than one third of cohesin binding sites differ between the two tissues and these show reduced overlap with CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) and are enriched at the regulatory regions of tissue-specific genes. Cohesin/CTCF sites at active enhancers and promoters contain, at least, cohesin-SA1. Analyses of chromatin contacts at the Protocadherin (Pcdh) and Regenerating islet-derived (Reg) gene clusters, mostly expressed in brain and pancreas, respectively, revealed remarkable differences that correlate with the presence of cohesin. We could not detect significant changes in the chromatin contacts at the Pcdh locus when comparing brains from wild-type and SA1 null embryos. In contrast, reduced dosage of SA1 altered the architecture of the Reg locus and decreased the expression of Reg genes in the pancreas of SA1 heterozygous mice. Given the role of Reg proteins in inflammation, such reduction may contribute to the increased incidence of pancreatic cancer observed in these animals.
PMCID: PMC4381060  PMID: 25735743
4.  Identification of TERRA locus unveils a telomere protection role through association to nearly all chromosomes 
Nature Communications  2014;5:4723.
Telomeric RNAs (TERRAs) are UUAGGG repeat-containing RNAs that are transcribed from the subtelomere towards the telomere. The precise genomic origin of TERRA has remained elusive. Using a whole-genome RNA-sequencing approach, we identify novel mouse transcripts arising mainly from the subtelomere of chromosome 18, and to a lesser extend chromosome 9, that resemble TERRA in several key aspects. Those transcripts contain UUAGGG-repeats and are heterogeneous in size, fluctuate in abundance in a TERRA-like manner during the cell cycle, are bound by TERRA RNA-binding proteins and are regulated in a manner similar to TERRA in response to stress and the induction of pluripotency. These transcripts are also found to associate with nearly all chromosome ends and downregulation of the transcripts that originate from chromosome 18 causes a reduction in TERRA abundance. Interestingly, downregulation of either chromosome 18 transcripts or TERRA results in increased number of telomere dysfunction-induced foci, suggesting a protective role at telomeres.
Telomeric RNAs (TERRAs) are known to be transcribed towards the telomere from subtelomeric regions, however, their precise genomic origins are unclear. Here López de Silanes et al. identify novel transcripts that originate from the subtelomeric region of mouse chromosome 18 and behave as bona fide TERRAs.
PMCID: PMC4164772  PMID: 25182072
5.  New Mutations in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Identified by Target Enrichment and Deep Sequencing 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38158.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a heterogeneous disease without a well-defined genetic alteration responsible for the onset of the disease. Several lines of evidence coincide in identifying stimulatory and growth signals delivered by B-cell receptor (BCR), and co-receptors together with NFkB pathway, as being the driving force in B-cell survival in CLL. However, the molecular mechanism responsible for this activation has not been identified. Based on the hypothesis that BCR activation may depend on somatic mutations of the BCR and related pathways we have performed a complete mutational screening of 301 selected genes associated with BCR signaling and related pathways using massive parallel sequencing technology in 10 CLL cases. Four mutated genes in coding regions (KRAS, SMARCA2, NFKBIE and PRKD3) have been confirmed by capillary sequencing. In conclusion, this study identifies new genes mutated in CLL, all of them in cases with progressive disease, and demonstrates that next-generation sequencing technologies applied to selected genes or pathways of interest are powerful tools for identifying novel mutational changes.
PMCID: PMC3365884  PMID: 22675518
6.  EVAcon: a protein contact prediction evaluation service 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(Web Server issue):W347-W351.
Here we introduce EVAcon, an automated web service that evaluates the performance of contact prediction servers. Currently, EVAcon is monitoring nine servers, four of which are specialized in contact prediction and five are general structure prediction servers. Results are compared for all newly determined experimental structures deposited into PDB (∼5–50 per week). EVAcon allows for a precise comparison of the results based on a system of common protein subsets and the commonly accepted evaluation criteria that are also used in the corresponding category of the CASP assessment. EVAcon is a new service added to the functionality of the EVA system for the continuous evaluation of protein structure prediction servers. The new service is accesible from any of the three EVA mirrors: PDG (CNB-CSIC, Madrid) (); CUBIC (Columbia University, NYC) (); and Sali Lab (UCSF, San Francisco) ().
PMCID: PMC1160172  PMID: 15980486
7.  EVA: evaluation of protein structure prediction servers 
Nucleic Acids Research  2003;31(13):3311-3315.
EVA ( is a web server for evaluation of the accuracy of automated protein structure prediction methods. The evaluation is updated automatically each week, to cope with the large number of existing prediction servers and the constant changes in the prediction methods. EVA currently assesses servers for secondary structure prediction, contact prediction, comparative protein structure modelling and threading/fold recognition. Every day, sequences of newly available protein structures in the Protein Data Bank (PDB) are sent to the servers and their predictions are collected. The predictions are then compared to the experimental structures once a week; the results are published on the EVA web pages. Over time, EVA has accumulated prediction results for a large number of proteins, ranging from hundreds to thousands, depending on the prediction method. This large sample assures that methods are compared reliably. As a result, EVA provides useful information to developers as well as users of prediction methods.
PMCID: PMC169025  PMID: 12824315

Results 1-8 (8)