Embryonic development and differentiation in vertebrates



Juan José Sanz-Ezquerro

Group Leader



Research summary

Our group is interested in understanding the molecular and cellular basis of organ formation during embryonic development. This knowledge is important for identifying the origin of congenital malformations and to understand the basis of morphological evolution. We also study the role of signaling pathways in adult tissue homeostasis, inflammation and regeneration.



Sanz-Ezquerro, JJ. and Cuenda, A.  p38 Signalling Pathway. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021; 22(3), 1003; doi: 10.3390/ijms22031003

Fajardo P, Cuenda A, Sanz-Ezquerro JJ. A mouse model of CandidiasisMethods Mol. Biol. Springer. 2021; 2321:63-74. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-1488-4_7

Alsina‐Beauchamp D, Escós A, Fajardo P, González‐Romero D, E Díaz‐Mora, Risco A, Martín‐Serrano MA, del Fresno C, Dominguez‐Andrés J, Aparicio N, Zur R, Shpiro N, Brown GD, Ardavín C, Netea MG, Alemany S, Sanz‐Ezquerro JJ, Cuenda A. Myeloid cell deficiency of p38γ/p38δ protects against candidiasis and regulates antifungal immunity. EMBO Mol Med 2018; e8485; DOI 10.15252/emmm.201708485

Sanz-Ezquerro JJ, Musterberg AE, Stricker S.Signalling pathways in embryonic development.Front Cell Dev Biol . 2017; 5: 76

Cuenda A, Sanz-Ezquerro JJ. p38γ and p38δ: From Spectators to Key Physiological Players.Trends Biochem Sci. 2017 Jun;42(6):431-442


Fig1SanzOur group is interested in understanding the molecular and cellular basis of organ formation during embryonic development. This knowledge is important for identifying the origin of congenital malformations and to understand the basis of morphological evolution. We use animal models (mouse and chicken embryos) to address several biological questions related to development, such as morphogenesis and cell differentiation. We also study the role of developmental pathways in adult tissue homeostasis and regeneration.

We have previously shown that Fgf signalling controls the formation of phalanges in digits. Moreover, we provided evidence that the last phalange has special features, including the presence of a specific molecular program that could be related to nail formation and the regenerative potential of the digit tips. We have continued the analysis of the Fgf signalling pathway during digit development, investigating how the maintenance of Fgf signals can induce the production of extra phalanges (hyperphalangy). We have also studied the expression and regulation in digits of MKP3 (a phosphatase that negatively regulates Fgf signalling) and the possible role of a MKP3 negative feedback loop in producing truncation of avian digits.

We are also interested in the relationship between inflammation and regeneration. The role of inflammation in regenerative processes is controversial. In some cases, it has been shown to improve tissue healing, but in other instances it has been shown to be detrimental to regeneration. In collaboration with the group of Ana Cuenda (Department of Immunology and Oncology, CNB) we are using a model of cancer associated to inflammation (colon cancer associated to colitis, CAC) to address this problem. By chemically inducing damage to the colon, which triggers an inflammatory response, we are investigating the role of p38MAPK signalling in the regeneration of the epithelium, the control of inflammation and in the induction of tumour formation.




Sanz 2020 Foto Grupo


Juan José Sanz-Ezquerro Principal investigator
Victoria Alonso Asensio Technician

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