Aguirre Tamaral, Adrián   (PhD student), Email:

As a biophysicist, my thesis project focuses in the study in vitro, in vivo and in silico of the Hedgehog (Hh) signalling pathway and its morphogenetic gradient formation in two paradigs, the wing imaginal disc and the abdominal epidermis of Drosophila melanogaster. I try to clarify this biological system under a multidisciplinary approach; Starting with the huge range of Drosophila tools and biological techniques, and complementing this knowledge with different physical measures, to provide enough quantitative data to establish a mathematical model. All these information will make possible the posterior computer simulation to study the Hh concentration gradient formation.

González Méndez, Laura   (Postdoctoral student), Email:

Currently, I am focusing on the characterization of the physical interaction sites between Hh producing and target cells along cytonemes during Drosophila wing disc patterning, based on the hypothesis that Hh signalling takes place by cytonemes-mediated cell-to-cell contacts in a process similar to neuronal sinapsis.

Jordan Alvarez, Sheila María   (Postdoctoral student), Email:

Understanding cooperation between different pathways is essential to know how different tissues develop and also to understand the progress of some diseases. The signalling molecules Hedgehog (Hh), Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) and others like PI3K and Ras are vital for tissue patterning and organ development. Collaboration between these pathways is also implicated in tumour development, and crosstalk between them is necessary for signal co-activation in individual cells, but mechanisms for their intercellular communication are not known.

We are exploring the cooperation between these pathways through EGF regulation of Hh cytonemes, where activation of one pathway could affect the signal outcome of another at a distance. We will achieve this by characterizing the implication of these molecular pathways and protein interactions in cytoneme formation and dynamics. To this goal we are combining genetics, cell biology and confocal imaging during Drosophila development.

Sánchez Hernández, David   (Postdoctoral student),  Email:

How molecules are able to communicate specific signals between cells is a basic biological question and critical in the understanding of different pathologies. Morphogens are secreted proteins involved in signalling and have an important role in these processes. During my PhD I studied the role of different membrane and extracellular matrix proteins involved in the correct establishment of the Hedgehog (Hh) morphogenetic gradient during development. After that, I was interested in the study of Wnt/Wg signalling regulation working at the Andreas Jenny lab (Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York). Currently I am focussed in how the Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) and Hh pathways cooperation can regulate cell communication, and more specifically the formation and dynamic of cytonemes (cellular protrusions implicated as carriers of signalling molecules). For that, we use different model systems including Drosophila melanogaster, Zebrafish (Danio Rerio) and mammalian cell culture.

Seijo Barandiarán, Irene   (PhD student), Email:

As a biologist, I am interested in how epithelial cells communicate in their biological environment of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and how is Hedgehog being transmitted from producer to receptor cells in filopodia-like protrusions (cytonemes) in real time. As most immunohistochemical studies that we do in our laboratory give us only steady state information about that communication, I am using techniques of 4D imaging in vivo that would give us more information about the dynamics of these cytonemes and how Hegehog is being transported.

Simon, Eléanor   (PhD student), Email:

My thesis project consists to understand how clonal segregations are formed and maintained within an apparent continuous tissue. An excellent model to tackle such a problematic is the wing imaginal disc of the fly. The development of the wing imaginal disc is based on the formation of clonal compartments : an anterior and posterior compartment specified since embryogenesis, and a dorsal and ventral compartment which are formed later, during the larvae stage. Cells at the edge of the compartment border typically act as signaling center responsible for the correct patterning of the structure. We are currently working on the hypothesis that the downstream effectors of these processes are transmembrane proteins that are expressed differentially within each compartment.

Doctoral Theses:


- Dynamics of Hedgehog signaling filopodia during Drosophila melanogaster epithelia morphogenesis. Irene Seiko Barandiarán, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.
Facultad de Ciencias. Julio 2017.

- Control of two morphogenetic processes during Drosophila melanogaster metamorphosis: fusion of imaginal disc and ecdysis. Eleanor Simon Universidad: Autónoma de Madrid. Facultad de Ciencias. Noviembre 2016.

- Papel de Ihog y Boi en la señalización de Hedgehog. David Sánchez Hernández Universidad: Autónoma de Madrid. Facultad de Ciencias. Enero 2014.

- Función de los genes lines y los genes de la familia Odd-Skipped en el desarrollo de los apéndices de Drosophila melanogaster.. Elvira Benítez de Gracia Universidad: Autónoma de Madrid. Facultad de Ciencias. Febrero 2008.

- Función del gen shf/Dwif en la vía de señalización de Hedgehog en Drosophila. Javier Sierra Isturiz. Universidad: Autónoma de Madrid. Facultad de Ciencias. Abril 2007.

- Papel del gen patched en el mecanismo de señalización de Hedgehog. Carlos Torroja Fungairiño Universidad: Autónoma de Madrid, Facultad de Ciencias, UAM, Diciembre 2003.

- Estudio del papel de la vía de Señalización de Hedgehog en la determinación del patrón morfogenético del ala de Drosophila. : José Luis Mullor SanJosé. Universidad: Autónoma de Madrid. Facultad de Ciencias; UAM . Noviembre 1999.

- El papel del gen Distal-less en la identidad de los apèndices ventrales de Drosophila melanogaster. Nicole Gorfinkiel Haim, Universidad: Autónoma de Madrid, Facultad de Ciencias, Mayo 1998.

- Papel del gen patched en el desarrollo embrionario e imaginal del Drosophila melanogaster Javier Capedvila Moya. Universidad: Autónoma de Madrid, Facultad de Ciencias, UAM. Abril 1995.