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Marian Martínez: Molecular signaling and chromatin

Lab Presentation

Multipotent cells are capable either self-renew or differentiate. This process is regulated by interactions between transcription factors, signalling proteins and epigenetic factors. Our group is focused on understanding the role of epigenetic regulators in gene transcription during development. We use as main experimental model gene induction and silencing that take place during neurogenesis. Our work will help to understand the molecular basis of chromatin function during the development as well as in pathological processes, helping to identify new therapeutic targets.

Research Lines

The role of histone methylation during neurogenesis and cell fate using chick embryo neural tube.
Neural differentiation requires general changes in gene expression in which epigenetic changes are involved. Our work has allowed to identify several signalling pathways that cooperate with the enzymes responsible of H3K27me3 to control neurogenesis. Our goal is to describe the molecular mechanisms responsible of this cooperation (Akizu et al., 2010).
Epigenetic defects in mental retardation. Role of histone demethylase PHF8.
A very high number of genes mutated in mental retardation encode regulators of chromatin structure. One of these genes is PHF8, a histone demethylase enzyme. The PFH8 function and the molecular mechanisms responsible for it role in mental retardation are not clearly established. In the laboratory we are interested in establishing the role of PHF8 in vivo.
Role of histone acetyltransferase P/CAF in DNA damage response and apoptosis induction.
The acetyltransferase P/CAF is autoacetylated and acetylated by p300 in vivo. Our experiments have shown that the subcellular distribution of P/CAF is regulated by autoacetylation. P/CAF accumulates in the cytoplasm during apoptosis and suggest a novel pathway by which P/CAF activity is controlled in vivo (Blanco-García et al., 2009).
Marian Martínez Balbás
  • Marian Martínez-Balbás
  • C/ Baldiri Reixac, 15-21
  • 08028 Barcelona, Spain
  • Phone: +34 93 4034961 / +34 93 4020185
  • E-mail:

Principal Investigator

Past students

  • Maria Alejandra Garcia

    PhD Student


  • De la Cruz, X., Llois, S., Sánchez-Molina, S., Martínez-Balbás, M.A. Do protein motifs read the histone code?. 2005. BioEssays. 27 (2) 164-175.
  • Valls, E., Sánchez-Molina, S. and Martínez-Balbás, M.A. Role of histone modifications in marking and activating genes through mitosis 2005 J.of Biochem. Chem. 280, 42592-42600.  
  • Sánchez-Molina, S., Oliva, J.L., García-Vargas, S., Valls, E., Rojas, J.M., and Martínez-Balbás, M.A. The histone acetyltransferases CBP/p300 are degraded in NIH 3T3 cells by activation of Ras signalling pathway. 2006 Biochem J. 398, 215-224.  
  • Valls, E, Blanco, N., Aquizu, N., Piedra, D., Estarás, C., de la Cruz, X and Martínez-Balbás, M.A.  Involvement of chromatin and histone deacetylation in the SV40 T antigen transcription regulation. 2007 Nucleic Acids Research, 35, 1958-1968.    
  • LLois S., Blanco, N. Martínez-Balbás, M.A. and de la Cruz, X Patterns of alternative splicing in chromatin-modifying enzymes unveil a  new complexity level in the regulation of gene expression 2007. BMC Genomics, 8, 252-266. *CO-CORRESPONDING AUTHOR  
  • Blanco-García, N, Asensio-Juan, E. de la Cruz, X, and  Martínez-Balbás, M.A. Autoacetylation regulates P/CAF nuclear localization". 2009. J.  Biol. Chem , 284, 1343-1352.  
  • Mateo, F., Vidal-Laliena, M, Canela, N., Busino, L., Martínez-Balbás, M.A, Pagano, M., Agell, N. and Bachs, O Degradation of cyclin A is regulated by acetylation. . 2009. Oncogen, 28, 2654-2666.                
  • Mateo, F., Vidal-Laliena, M., Canela, N., Zecchin, A., Martínez-Balbás, M.A., Agell, N., Giacca, M., Pujol, M.J., Bachs, O The transcriptional co-activator PCAF regulates cdk2 activity . 2009. Nucleic Acis Reseach, 37, 7072-7084.  
  • Lois, S. Akizu, N. Martínez-Balbás, M.A and de la Cruz X. Characterization of structural variability sheds light on the specificity determinants of the interaction between effector domains and histone tails. 2010. Epigenetics, 5, 137-148.COVER PICTURE   
  • Akizu, N,, Estarás C, Guerrero, L., Martí, E. and Martínez-Balbás, M.A. H3K27me3 regulates BMP activity in developing spinal cord.  2010. Development, 137, 2915-2925.    HIGHLIGTED in Development 137:e1702: "Spinal cord development BuMPs into chromatin" and    
  • PUBLISHED in Articles of Interest in Other COB Journals - From Development 2010. J Cell Sci  123:e1; doi:10.1242/jcs.079251    
  • Perez-Luna M, Aguasca M, Perearnau A, Serratosa J, Martínez-Balbás, MA, Pujol MJ and Bachs O. PCAF regulates the stability of the transcriptional regulator and cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor Regulation of p27Kip1. 2012. Nucleic Acid Research, 40, 6520-6533.      
  • Celià T, Meca-Cortés O, Martínez-Paz A, Mateo F, Ulloa C, Rubio N, Arnal A, Estarás C, Lozano JJ,  Bermudo R,  García de Herreros A, Martínez-Balbás, MA, Millà J, Vilella R, Gomis R, Blanco  Fernández PL and Thomson TM. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition can suppress major attributes of epithelial tumor-initiating cells. 2012. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 122, 1849-1868.      
  • Estarás, C., Akizu, N.,  García, M.A., de la Cruz, X., and Martínez-Balbás, M.A. Genome-wide analysis reveals that Smad3 and JMJD3 HDM co-activate the neural developmental program.  2012. Development, 139, 2681-2691.    
  • Asensio-Juan, E. Gallego, C. and Martínez-Balbás, M.A. Histone demethylase PHF8 is essential for cytoskeleton dynamics. 2012.Nucleic Acids Research, Jul, 31. 
  • Estarás, C., Fueyo, R., Akizu, N.,  Beltrán S., and Martínez-Balbás, M.A. RNA polymerase progression through H3K27me3-enriched gene bodies require JMJD3 histone demethylase. 2013. Molecular Biology Cell, 24, 351-360.    


  • Vidal-Laliena, M., Gallastegui, E., Mateo, F., Martínez-Balbás, MA., Pujol, MJ., Bachs, O. HDAC3 regulates cyclin A stability. 2013. J.  Biol. Chem.,  288, 21096-21104.
  • Petazzi, P.,* Akizu, N.,*  García, M.A., Estarás, C., Martinez de Paz, A.,  Rodriguez-Paredes, M., Martínez-Balbás, M.A., Huertas, D., and Esteller, M.   Fine-tuning of MeCP2 expression is essential for proper nervous system development. 2014. Neurobiology of Disease. Mar 19;67C:49-56. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2014.03.009 * Equally contributing authors    
  • Sánchez-Molina, S., Estarás, C., Oliva, J.L., Akizu, N., Asensio-Juan, E., Rojas, J.M. and Martinez-Balbas, M.A. Regulation of CBP and Tip60 coordinates histone acetylation at local and global level during Ras induced transformation. 2014. Carcinogenesis. In press. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgu111  
  • Fueyo, R.*, García, M.A*. and Martínez-Balbás, M.A. Jumonji family histone demethylases in neural development. 2014. Cell and Tissue Research. In press. Doi: 10.1007/s00441-014-1924-7

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PREDOCTORAL POSITION IN EPIGENETICS   A predoctoral position is available to work on epigenetics and neurogenesis. The candidate will develop the project in the Molecular Biology Institute of Barcelona (IBMB) ( from the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) in Barcelona, Spain. The IBMB is located in the Bareclona Science Park (PCB).  Applications are invited from candidates highly self-motivated and dedicated and with very good academic records.Interested shoud apply by e.mail and send a detalled CV, as well as a motivation letter to: Contact: Marian  Martínez Balbás. IBMB-CSIC. Parc Cientific de Barcelona. C/ Baldiri Reixac 15-21 08028 Barcelona. e.mail:

OFERTA DE CONTRATO PREDOCTORAL Se ofrece contrato predoctoral para trabajar en el Instituto de Biología Molecular de Barcelona (IBMB-CSIC).  El proyecto está dirigido a la comprensión de los mecanismos epigenéticos que regulan la proliferación y diferenciación celulares y sus implicaciones en la génesis de enfermedades mentales. Se buscan candidatos altamente motivados por la investigación con un expediente académico superior a 2.5. La persona seleccionada se integrará en un grupo dinámico y competitivo situado en el Parc Cientific de Barcelona. Empleará un amplio abanico de técnicas de biología molecular, celular y bioquímicas.   Interesados contactar con: Marian  Martínez Balbás. IBMB-CSIC. Parc Cientific de Barcelona. C/ Baldiri Reixac 15-21 08028 Barcelona. Tel. 93-403-49-61. Fax: 93-403-49-79 E. Mail:


Control epigenético de la neurogénesis: Papel de las desmetilasas de histonas JMJD3 y PHF8. BFU2012-34261.

  • Spanish Ministry for Science and Education
  • From: 12/2012 To: 12/2015
  • PI: Marian Martínez-Balbás  

Defectos epigenéticos asociados al retraso mental

  • Jérôme Lejeune Fondation
  • From: 9/09/2012 To: 9/09/2014
  • PI: Marian Martínez-Balbás

Defectos epigenéticos asociados al retraso mental. 09 0210.

  • La Marató de TV3 Fondation.
  • From: 19/11/2009 To: 19/11/2012
  • PI: Marian Martínez-Balbás

Genomica estructural i aplicada SRG2009.

  • AGAUR. Generalitat de Catalunya.
  • From: 12/2009 To: 12/2014
  • Coordinator: Joaquín Roca

Mecanismos epigenéticos implicados en la proliferación y diferenciación celulares: papel de la metilación/demetilación de las histonas. BFU2009-11144.

  • Spanish Ministry for Science and Education.
  • From: 12/2009 To: 12/2012  
  • PI: Marian Martínez-Balbás


Mecanismos epigenéticos implicados en la proliferación y diferenciación celulares: papel de las modificaciones de las histonas BFU2006-01493.

  • Spanish Ministry for Science and Education
  • From: 1/10/2006 To: 30/09/2009
  • PI: Marian Martínez-Balbás  

Epigenética: mecanismos y enfermedad. Consolider Ingenio. CSD2006-00049.

  • Spanish Ministry for Science and Education
  • From 11/2006 To: 11/2011
  • Coordinator: Miguel Beato Rosal PI: Marian Martínez-Balbás  

Análisis estructural y funcional de la cromatina

  • AGAUR. Generalitat de Catalunya.
  • From: 1/1/2006 To: 1/1/2008
  • Coordinator: Ferrán Azorín Marín PI: Marian Martínez-Balbás  

Estudio del papel de la acetilación en el control de la proliferación y del ciclo celular. SAF2005-01285.

  • Spanish Ministry for Science and Education
  • From: 12/2005 To: 12/2006
  • PI: Marian Martínez-Balbás

Genómica estructural: aplicación a proteínas y complejos proteicos relacionados. GEN2003-20642.

  • Spanish Ministry for Science and Education
  • From: 1/9/2004 To:1/9/2007
  • Coordinator: Miquel Coll PI: Marian Martínez-Balbás

Análisis de la función de la acetilación en el control del ciclo celular y en la transformación inducida por los oncogenes ras y antígeno T. SAF2002-00741.

  • Spanish Ministry for Science and Education
  • From: 12/2002 To: 12/2005
  • PI: Marian Martínez-Balbás

Control de la expresión génica mediante procesos de acetilación. PB98-0468.

  • Spanish Ministry for Science and Education
  • From: 1/12/1999 To 1/12/2002
  • PI: Marian Martínez-Balbás 

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