Brites, Pedro

Research Interest
Our research focuses on the differentiation of neurons and myelinating glia and their interplay in health and disease.

We are particularly interested in the role that ether-phospholipids play in membrane processes including axon growth, synapse formation and myelin synthesis. Using model organisms, we combine in vivo and in vitro studies to integrate physiological cell processes with disease states.

Projects as Principal Investigator
European Leukodystrophy Association – Research Foundation "Developing, characterizing and rescuing animal models of leukodystrophies: role of plasmalogen in mitigating oxidative stress".
Universidade do Porto, Projecto Pluridisciplinar 2011-33, “Computational vision applied to the segmentation and morphometric characterization of nerve histology in microscopic images”

Supervision
Tiago Silva (PhD student), Ana Rita Malheiro (PhD student).

References
P. Brites, P. Mooyer, L. el Mrabet, H. R. Waterham, and R.J. Wanders. Plasmalogens participate in very-long-chain fatty acid-induced pathology. Brain, 2009, 132(2):482-492.
S. Ferdinandusse, A. Zomer, J. C. Komen, C. van den Brink, M. Thanos, F. Hamers, R. J. A. Wanders, P. van der Saag, B.T. Poll-The, and P. Brites. (2008) Ataxia with Loss of Purkinje Cells in a Mouse Model for Refsum Disease. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 2008,105(46):17712-17717.

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Carvalho, Ana

Research Interest
Our research interest lies in understanding the mechanisms that drive cytokinesis, the final step of cell division.

The molecular underpinnings of cytokinesis remain poorly understood and elucidating them is of significance for the understanding of tumorigenesis. In addition, knowledge about the molecular basis of cytokinesis will likely translate to other essential cellular processes that also utilize contractile networks composed of actin and myosin II, namely muscle contraction, tissue morphogenesis, cell migration, cell invasion, wound healing, and endocytosis.
Our research focuses in the study of the structural organization and dynamics of the contractile ring, the filamentous structure of actin and myosin that drives cytokinesis. The experimental approaches that we use in the lab include live cell imaging, laser microsurgery, electron microscopy, and biochemistry and our experimental system is the nematode C. elegans.

Projects as Principal Investigator
Foundation for Science and Technology of Portugal (PTDC/BEX-BCM/0654/2012) - Actin and myosin II in the contractile ring - mechanisms of constriction

Supervision
Ana Marta Silva (Post-doc), Fung-Yi Chan (Post-doc), Daniel Osório (Post-doc), Joana Sousa (Trainee), Joana Saramago (MSc student).

References
Carvalho A, Olson S, Gutierrez E, Zhang K, Noble L, Zanin E, Desai A, Groisman A and Oegema K. Acute drug treatment in the early C. elegans embryo. PLoS ONE. 2011. 6(9): e24656
Carvalho, A., Desai, A. & Oegema, K. Structural memory in the contractile ring makes the duration of cytokinesis independent of cell size. Cell. 2009. 137, 926-937.

 

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Freitas, Renata

Research Interest
Renata Freitas research is focus on understanding the molecular mechanisms responsible for the evolution of animal design.

She is also interested to explore how changes in those mechanisms lead to birth defects in humans. Most of her research was conducted under the paradigmatic question of how locomotory structures appeared and evolved in vertebrates. Pursuing this topic, she is currently studying developmental pathways associated with HoxD genes, which are transcription factors strongly involved in limb morphogenesis and patterning. These questions are being addressed using mainly zebrafish as model organism and combining functional genomics and developmental biology approaches.

Projects as Principal Investigator
FCT: EXPL/BEX-BID/0801/2013. Shaping animal design: role of Hoxd13 target genes in the development of vertebrate limbs.

References
Freitas R, Zhang G, Cohn MJ. Evidence that mechanisms of fin development evolved in the midline of early vertebrates. Nature. 2006 Aug 31;442(7106):1033-7. Epub 2006 Jul 26.
Freitas R, Gómez-Marín C, Wilson JM, Casares F, Gómez-Skarmeta JL. Hoxd13 contribution to the evolution of vertebrate appendages. Dev Cell. 2012 Dec 11;23(6):1219-29. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2012.10.015.

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Sá, Eurico

Research Interest
The epithelial tissue surrounds the organs of multicellular organisms, playing a number of specialized roles that require polarized intracellular distribution of adhesive structures and functionally distinct apical and basal domains at opposite sides.

Tight regulation of epithelial architecture is essential during embryonic development and to maintain homeostasis of adult organs. In fact, defects in proliferation and apico-basal polarity are an underlying cause of cancer in epithelial tissues, which are the source of most malignant tumors. The molecular organization of epithelial polarity and the mechanisms that ensure correct chromosome segregation are well studied, but how these processes are synchronized to maintain epithelial integrity during proliferation remain rather unexplored. We therefore aim to understand the link between the regulation of cell division and the organization of polarity at the tissue level, and to address the interplay between these processes in tumorigenesis.

Projects as Principal Investigator
Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, Portugal, PTDC/BIA-BCM/120132/2010: Understanding the coordination between mitosis and cell polarity

Supervision
Sofia Moreira (BI fellow), Guilherme Ventura (Trainee).

References
Morais-de-Sá, E. and Sunkel, C. (2013). Adherens junctions determine the apical position of the midbody during follicular epithelial cell division. EMBO Rep 14, 696-703.
Morais-de-Sá, E., Mirouse, V., and St Johnston, D. (2010). aPKC phosphorylation of Bazooka defines the apical/lateral border in Drosophila epithelial cells. Cell 141, 509-523.

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Sousa, Sandra

Research Interest
I am investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying pathogen invasion, survival, multiplication and dissemination within host epithelial cells.

To infect cells, bacterial pathogens developed molecular weapons that mimic host proteins and functions subverting classic signalling pathways. Using Listeria monocytogenes as a tool, we are studying new functions of host cytoskeleton components and characterizing new regulatory mechanisms relevant in the context of infection and in basic cell biology processes.

Projects as Principal Investigator
Fundação para a Ciencia e a Tecnologia, Portugal, PTDC/BIA-BCM/111215/2009. “Unravelling the interplay between Listeria monocytogenes infection and the host cell cycle.” (2011-2014)
European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID), Basel, Switzerland. “Novel interfaces during host responses to pore forming toxins: crosstalk between ER chaperones and cytoskeletal proteins.” (2014-2016)

Supervision
Maria Teresa Almeida (PhD Student), Rui Filipe Cruz (PhD Student), Cláudia Brito (PhD Student), Ana Catarina Costa (Post-doc), Paulo Cunha (Post-doc).

References
Leitão E, Costa AC, Brito C, Costa L, Pombinho R, Cabanes D, Sousa S. Listeria monocytogenes induces host DNA damage and delays the host cell cycle to promote infection. Cell Cycle. 2014. In press.
Martins M, Custodio R, Camejo A, Almeida MT, Cabanes D, Sousa S. Listeria monocytogenes triggers the cell surface expression of Gp96 and interacts with its N-terminus to support cellular infection. J Biol Chem. 2012 Dec 14; 287(51):43083-93.

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Joana Tavares

Tavares, Joana

Research Interest
The possibility to perform intravital fluorescence microscopy in animal models at a resolution to pick up cellular behaviors and molecular signals underlying them, have been revolutionizing several fields of research including infection.

Light is being shed on a number of processes used by Plasmodium to successfully infect the host. By combining live imaging techniques and transgenic parasites, we are interested into dissect the molecular basis of sporozoites homing to the liver and the contribution of the liver during pre-erythrocytic phase as a lymphoid organ.

Projects as Principal Investigator
FCT. EXPL/JTAVARES-IF/00881/2012/CP0158/CT0005 Intravital imaging of Plasmodium liver infection.
FCT and FEDER. EXPL/IMI-MIC/1331/2013 and FCOMP-01-0124-FEDER-041854. Dissecting the molecular basis of the arrest of Plasmodium sporozoites in the liver sinusoids.

Supervision
Ines Loureiro (PhD student), Helena Ribeiro (Research fellow).

References
Tavares J, Formaglio P, Thiberge S, Mordelet E, Van Rooijen N, Medvinsky A, Ménard R, Amino R. Role of host cell traversal by the malaria sporozoite during liver infection. J Exp Med 2013, 210:905-15.
Gueirard P, Tavares J, Thiberge S, Bernex F, Ishino T, Milon G, Franke-Fayard B, Janse CJ, Ménard R, Amino R. Development of the malaria parasite in the skin of the mammalian host. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2010, 107: 18640-5.


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