Animal models by genetic manipulation



Lluís Montoliu

Group Leader



Research summary

In our laboratory, we are interested in understanding how mammalian expression domains work and how they are organised within genomes. In particular, we focus on the identification and characterisation of genomic boundaries or insulators. By studying insulator elements, we aim to contribute to understanding of the functional and structural organization of vertebrate genomes. Insulators can be used effectively in biotechnological applications, as spacers, as boundaries, in any gene expression construct to be used in gene transfer experiments. We are searching for new insulator sequences in vertebrate genomes, through initial bioinformatic analyses.



Bakker R, Wagstaff PE, Kruijt CC, Emri E, van Karnebeek CDM, Hoffmann MB, Brooks BP, Boon CJF, Montoliu L, van Genderen MM, Bergen AA. The retinal pigmentation pathway in human albinism: Not so black and white. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2022 Nov;91:101091.

Luque J, Mendes I, Gómez B, Morte B, López de Heredia M, Herreras E, Corrochano V, Bueren J, Gallano P, Artuch R, Fillat C, Pérez-Jurado LA, Montoliu L, Carracedo Á, Millán JM, Webb SM, Palau F; CIBERER Network; Lapunzina P. CIBERER: Spanish national network for research on rare diseases: A highly productive collaborative initiative. Clin Genet. 2022 May;101(5-6):481-493.

Perez CJ, Mecklenburg L, Fernandez A, Cantero M, de Souza TA, Lin K, Dent SYR, Montoliu L, Awgulewitsch A, Benavides F. Naked (N) mutant mice carry a nonsense mutation in the homeobox of Hoxc13. Exp Dermatol. 2022 Mar;31(3):330-340.

Fernández A, Hayashi M, Garrido G, Montero A, Guardia A, Suzuki T, Montoliu L. Genetics of non-syndromic and syndromic oculocutaneous albinism in human and mouse. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2021 Jul;34(4):786-799.

Seruggia D, Josa S, Fernández A, Montoliu L. The structure and function of the mouse tyrosinase locus. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2020 Oct 23.



Our laboratory is interested in understanding the underlying pathological mechanisms of a group of human rare diseases known as albinism, a heterogeneous genetic condition associated with mutations in at least 22 genes, characterised by visual impairment, present in all types, and pigmentation alterations, not obvious for some cases. This work on human rare diseases is associated with our participation in the CIBERER-ISCIII.

Our laboratory has generated and analysed new animal models to study visual abnormalities and different anomalies affecting retina development that are associated with albinism. In collaboration with Angel Carracedo (USC) and Carmen Ayuso (FJD), we have devised, within the CIBERER-ISCIII, a project for the universal genetic diagnostic of all known mutations in albinism. We apply this knowledge in cooperation with ALBA, the Spanish association in support of people with albinism and have been able to genetically diagnose numerous Spanish families.

We are also interested in understanding the function of regulatory elements that are required to define gene expression domains in mammalian genomes. We have used the mouse tyrosinase locus (Tyr) as experimental model. This approach has allowed us to identify several key regulatory elements, such as genome boundaries or insulators, which protect the locus from surrounding genes and ensure the faithful gene expression pattern.

As a general strategy, we regularly use transgenic and genome-edited animals, mice, to introduce different type of gene constructs in order to investigate the relevance of specific DNA regulatory sequences. The functional analysis of regulatory elements found within the intergenic non-coding genomic sequences can now be addressed more efficiently thanks to the efficient genome editing CRISPR-Cas9 tools. In Spain, where we pioneered the application of CRISPR technology in mice, we have generated a series of genome-edited mice carrying patient-specific mutations that we are currently phenotyping and using to explore new therapies for albinism.




figure2 Montoliu 2022

CRISPR genome edited mice as animal models of (from left to right): OCA2, wild type, OCA1A and OCA1B oculocutaneous albinism types.


montoliu group and HISTO CRIO 2022


Lluís Montoliu Principal investigator
Almudena Fernández López Postdoctoral scientist
Gema Garrido CIBER staff
Andrea Montero Predoctoral scientist
Ana M Guardia Predoctoral scientist
Marta Cantero Technician
Inés Arroba Technician (CIBER)

NOTE! This site uses cookies and similar technologies.

If you continue browsing or do not change browser settings, we consider your acepptance for using. Learn more

I understand


A cookie is a text file that is stored on your computer or mobile device via a web server and only that server will be able to retrieve or read the contents of the cookie and allow the Web site remember browser preferences and navigate efficiently. Cookies make the interaction between the user and the website faster and easier.

General information

This Website uses cookies. Cookies are small text files generated by the web pages you visit, which contain the session data that can be useful later in the website. In this way this Web remembers information about your visit, which can facilitate your next visit and make the website more useful.

How do cookies?

Cookies can only store text, usually always anonymous and encrypted. No personal information is ever stored in a cookie, or can be associated with identified or identifiable person.

The data allow this website to keep your information between the pages, and also to discuss how to interact with the website. Cookies are safe because they can only store information that is put there by the browser, which is information the user entered in the browser or included in the page request. You can not run the code and can not be used to access your computer. If a website encrypts cookie data, only the website can read the information.

What types of cookies used?

The cookies used by this website can be distinguished by the following criteria:

1. Types of cookies as the entity that manages:

Depending on who the entity operating the computer or domain where cookies are sent and treat the data obtained, we can distinguish:

- Own cookies: are those that are sent to the user's terminal equipment from a computer or domain managed by the editor itself and from which provides the service requested by the user.

- Third party cookies: these are those that are sent to the user's terminal equipment from a machine or domain that is not managed by the publisher, but by another entity data is obtained through cookies.

In the event that the cookies are installed from a computer or domain managed by the editor itself but the information collected by these is managed by a third party can not be considered as party cookies.

2. Types of cookies as the length of time that remain active:

Depending on the length of time that remain active in the terminal equipment can be distinguished:

- Session cookies: cookies are a type designed to collect and store data while the user accesses a web page. Are usually used to store information that only worth preserving for the service requested by the user at any one time (eg a list of products purchased).

- Persistent cookies: cookies are a type of data which are stored in the terminal and can be accessed and treated for a period defined by the head of the cookie, and can range from a few minutes to several years.

3. Cookies types according to their purpose:

Depending on the purpose for which the data are processed through cookies, we can distinguish between:

- Technical cookies: these are those that allow the user to navigate through a web page or application platform and the use of different options or services it exist as, for example, control traffic and data communication, identify the session, access to restricted access parts, remember the elements of an order, make the buying process an order, make an application for registration or participation in an event, use security features while browsing store content for dissemination videos or sound or share content via social networks.

- Customization cookies: these are those that allow the user to access the service with some general characteristics based on a predefined set of criteria in the user terminal would eg language, the type of browser through which you access the service, the locale from which you access the service, etc.

- Analysis cookies: they are those that allow the responsible for them, monitoring and analyzing the behavior of users of the web sites that are linked. The information gathered through such cookies are used in measuring the activity of web sites, application or platform and for the profiling of user navigation of such sites, applications and platforms, in order to make improvements function data analysis how users use the service.

Management tool cookies

This Website uses Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is a free tool from Google that primarily allows website owners know how users interact with your website. Also, enable cookies in the domain of the site in which you are and uses a set of cookies called "__utma" and "__utmz" to collect information anonymously and reporting of website trends without identifying individual users..

For statistics of use of this website use cookies in order to know the level of recurrence of our visitors and more interesting content. This way we can concentrate our efforts on improving the most visited areas and make the user more easily find what they are looking for. On this site you can use the information from your visit for statistical evaluations and calculations anonymous data and to ensure the continuity of service or to make improvements to their websites. For more details, see the link below privacy policy []

How to manage cookies on your computer: disabling and deleting cookies

All Internet browsers allow you to limit the behavior of a cookie or disable cookies within settings or browser settings. The steps for doing so are different for each browser, you can find instructions in the help menu of your browser.

If you decline the use of cookies, since it is possible thanks to the preferences menu of your browser or settings, reject, this website will continue to function properly without the use of the same.

Can you allow, block or delete cookies installed on your computer by setting your browser options installed on your computer:

- For more information about Internet Explorer click here.
- For more information on Chrome click here.
- For more information about Safari click here.
- For more information about Firefox click here.

Through your browser, you can also view the cookies that are on your computer, and delete them as you see fit. Cookies are text files, you can open and read the contents. The data within them is almost always encrypted with a numeric key corresponding to an Internet session so often has no meaning beyond the website who wrote it.

Informed consent

The use of this website on the other hand, implies that you paid your specific consent to the use of cookies, on the terms and conditions provided in this Cookies Policy, without prejudice to the measures of deactivation and removal of cookies that you can take, and mentioned in the previous section.