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Lab presentation

Cell migration is a universal process involving distinct mechanisms and morphologies in different cell types and tissue environments. During development, cell migration is detected from the earliest stages becoming responsible for most morphogenetic processes. In healing and regeneration, cells migrate to close the wound following the same behavioural patterns than during morphogenesis.

Important progress has been achieved at the molecular and cellular level in determining the guidance and locomotion mechanisms of individual migratory cells. However, an equivalent analysis for collective cell movements is missing. The difficulties to combine genetic analysis and direct observation of moving clusters or sheets has prevented to obtain detailed information on the regulatory networks coordinating the distinct actions of cells within the group in movement. Further, the isolation of moving cells in clusters to undergo genomic studies has proven to be extremely difficult. Finally, the unavailability of methods to follow in vivo and at real time the activation or inhibition of signalling events; or the lack of quantitative measurement algorithms allowing to statistically discriminate in time and space specific parameters of the behaviour of cells in movement, has strongly precluded further progress in understanding these fundamental events.

Starting from the model systems of dorsal closure, imaginal disc fusion and histoblasts spreading in Drosophila, we aim to deepen in the regulatory control of these events and to explore the conservation of the signalling elements and cellular behaviours involved in vertebrate counterparts in amenable systems, Zebrafish development and wound healing in vertebrates.


there is currently no project published on this page

Lab people

Nowadays we only have little cues on how to comprehend systems-level interactions during
development or how to reach a holistic physical and biological understanding of morphogenesis.
The goal of our lab is to shed light into emergent new properties applying genetic, cellular and
modelling tools.

To do so, we employ Drosophila as a model system to study processes controlling
morphogenesis in a quantitative manner. Our current interests are centred in two main issues:
the mechanisms ruling the coordination of the morphogenesis of different tissues to build a
single functional structure (nerves, muscles and epidermis rebuilding the fly abdomen during
metamorphosis); and the mechanical control of the development and shaping of the embryonic
Central Nervous System (CNS).

We employ super-resolution imaging, genetics, and cell behavior and modelling tools, in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute (Dresden), The Francis Crick Institute (London), the DKFZ (Heidelberg), Harvard Medical School and the UB and UPC.

Past students

Ariadna Arasanz

PhD Student

Giulia Mencattelli

PhD Student

Selected publications

Recent publications of the lab include

Imaging and analysis of tissue orientation and growth dynamics in the developing
Drosophila epithelia during pupal stage. Mangione F and Martin-Blanco E. JOVE 2020: in

Mechanical coordination is sufficient to promote tissue replacement during metamorphosis
in Drosophila. Prat-Rojo C, Pouille PA, Buceta J, Martin-Blanco E. EMBO J 2019: e103594.

Automated Macro Approach to Remove Vitelline Membrane Autofluorescence in Drosophila
Embryo 4D Movies.Boix-Fabrés J, Karkali K, Martín-Blanco E, Rebollo E. Methods Mol
Biol. 2019; 2040:155-175.

The Dachsous/Fat/Four-Jointed Pathway Directs the Uniform Axial Orientation of Epithelial
Cells in the Drosophila Abdomen. Mangione F, Martín-Blanco E. Cell Rep 2018 25(10):

Mechanosensing in the Drosophila nervous system. Karkali K, Martin-Blanco E. Semin Cell
Dev Biol 2017; 71: 22-29.

Contractility, differential tension and membrane removal lead zebrafish epiboly
biomechanics. Marsal M, Hernández-Vega A, Martin-Blanco E. Cell Cycle 2017;16(14):

Polarized cortical tension drives zebrafish epiboly movements. Hernández-Vega A, Marsal
M, Pouille PA, Tosi S, Colombelli J, Luque T, Navajas D, Pagonabarraga I, Martín-Blanco E.
EMBO J 2017; 36(1): 25-41.

All publications

Alvarez-Fernandez, C; Tamirisa, S; Prada, F; Chernomoretz, A; Podhajcer, O; Blanco, E; Martin-Blanco, E. Identification and Functional Analysis of Healing Regulators in DrosophilaPLOS GENETICS 11, e1004965 (2015)

Pereira, AM; Tudor, C; Pouille, PA; Shekhar, S; Kanger, JS; Subramaniam, V; Martin-Blanco, E. Plasticity of the MAPK Signaling Network in Response to Mechanical Stress. PLOS ONE 9, e101963 (2014)

Rebollo, E; Karkali, K; Mangione, F; Martin-Blanco, E. Live imaging in Drosophila: The optical and genetic toolkits. METHODS 68, 48-59 (2014)

Pi-Roig, A; Martin-Blanco, E; Minguillon, C. Distinct tissue-specific requirements for the zebrafish tbx5 genes during heart, retina and pectoral fin developmentOPEN BIOLOGY 4, 140014 (2014)

Turkel, N; Sahota, VK; Bolden, JE; Goulding, KR; Doggett, K; Willoughby, LF; Blanco, E; Martin-Blanco, E; Corominas, M; Ellul, J; Aigaki, T; Richardson, HE; Brumby, AM. The BTB-zinc Finger Transcription Factor Abrupt Acts as an Epithelial Oncogene in Drosophila melanogaster through maintaining a Progenitor-like Cell State. PLOS GENETICS 9, e1003627 (2013)

Pereira, AM; Tudor, C; Kanger, JS; Subramaniam, V; Martin-Blanco, E. Integrin-Dependent Activation of the JNK Signaling Pathway by Mechanical Stress. PLOS ONE 6, e26182 (2011)

Ninov, N; Menezes-Cabral, S; Prat-Rojo, C; Manjon, C; Weiss, A; Pyrowolakis, G; Affolter, M; Martin-Blanco, E. Dpp Signaling Directs Cell Motility and Invasiveness during Epithelial Morphogenesis. CURRENT BIOLOGY 20, 513-520 (2010)

Ninov, N; Martin-Blanco, E. Changing gears in the cell cycle Histoblasts and beyond. FLY 3, 286-289 (2009)

Ninov, N; Manjon, C; Martin-Blanco, E. Dynamic Control of Cell Cycle and Growth Coupling by Ecdysone, EGFR, and PI3K Signaling in Drosophila Histoblasts. PLOS BIOLOGY 7, 892-903 (2009)

Thayil, AKN; Pereira, A; Mathew, M; Artigas, D; Martin-Blanco, E; Loza-Alvarez, P. Decrease in laser ablation threshold for epithelial tissue microsurgery in a living Drosophila embryo during dorsal closure. JOURNAL OF MICROSCOPY 232, 362-368 (2008)

Bakal, C; Linding, R; Llense, F; Heffern, E; Martin-Blanco, E; Pawson, T; Perrimon, N. Phosphorylation networks regulating JNK activity in diverse genetic backgrounds. SCIENCE 322, 453-456 (2008)

Llense, F; Martin-Blanco, E. JNK signaling controls border cell cluster integrity and collective cell migration. CURRENT BIOLOGY 18, 538-544 (2008)

Ninov, N; Chiarelli, DA; Martin-Blanco, E. Extrinsic and intrinsic mechanisms directing epithelial cell sheet replacement during Drosophila metamorphosis. DEVELOPMENT 134, 367-379 (2007)

Ninov, N; Martin-Blanco, E. Live imaging of epidermal morphogenesis during the development of the adult abdominal epidermis of DrosophilaNATURE PROTOCOLS 2, 3074-3080 (2007)

Bosch, M; Serras, F; Martin-Blanco, E; Baguna, J. JNK signaling pathway required for wound healing in regenerating Drosophila wing imaginal discs. DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY 280, 73-86 (2005)

Pastor-Pareja, JC; Grawe, F; Martin-Blanco, E; Garcia-Bellido, A. Invasive cell behavior during Drosophila imaginal disc eversion is mediated by the JNK signaling cascade. DEVELOPMENTAL CELL 7, 387-399 (2004)

Dobens, LL; Martin-Blanco, E; Martinez-Arias, A; Kafatos, FC; Raftery, LA. Drosophila puckered regulates Fos/Jun levels during follicle cell morphogenesis. DEVELOPMENT 128, 1845-1856 (2001)

Martin-Blanco, E; Knust, E. Epithelial morphogenesis: Filopodia at work. CURRENT BIOLOGY 11, R28-R31 (2001)

Culi, J; Martin-Blanco, E; Modolell, J. The EGF receptor and N signalling pathways act antagonistically in Drosophila mesothorax bristle patterning. DEVELOPMENT 128, 299-308 (2001)

Martin-Blanco, E; Pastor-Pareja, JC; Garcia-Bellido, A. JNK and Decapentaplegic signaling control adhesiveness and cytoskeleton dynamics during thorax closure in Drosophila. PNAS USA 97, 7888-7893 (2000)

Martin-Blanco, E. p38 MAPK signalling cascades: ancient roles and new functions. BIOESSAYS 22, 637-645 (2000)

Baonza, A; Roch, F; Martin-Blanco, E. DER signaling restricts the boundaries of the wing field during Drosophila development. PNAS USA 97, 7331-7335 (2000)

Martin-Blanco, E; Roch, F; Noll, E; Baonza, A; Duffy, JB; Perrimon, N. A temporal switch in DER signaling controls the specification and differentiation of veins and interveins in the Drosophila wing. DEVELOPMENT 126, 5739-5747 (1999)

Martin-Blanco, E; Martinez-Arias, A; Jarvis, B. Crossreactivity of anti-dual-phosphorylated antibodies with actin. TRENDS IN CELL BIOLOGY 8, 419-419 (1998)

Cosgaya, JM; Aranda, A; Cruces, J; Martin-Blanco, E. Neuronal differentiation of PC12 cells induced by Engrailed homeodomain is DNA-binding specific and independent of MAP kinases. JOURNAL OF CELL SCIENCE 111, 2377-2384 (1998)

Roch, F; Baonza, A; Martin-Blanco, E; Garcia-Bellido, A. Genetic interactions and cell behaviour in blistered mutants during proliferation and differentiation of the Drosophila wing. DEVELOPMENT 125,1823-1832 (1998)

Martin-Blanco, E; Gampel, A; Ring, J; Virdee, K; Kirov, N; Tolkovsky, AM; Martinez-Arias, A. puckered encodes a phosphatase that mediates a feedback loop regulating JNK activity during dorsal closure in DrosophilaGENES & DEVELOPMENT 12, 557-570 (1998)

Martin-Blanco, E. Regulatory control of signal transduction during morphogenesis in DrosophilaINTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY 42, 363-368 (1998)

Martin-Blanco, E. Regulation of cell differentiation by the Drosophila Jun kinase cascade. CURRENT OPINION IN GENETICS & DEVELOPMENT 7, 666-671 (1997)

Martin-Blanco, E; Garcia-Bellido, A. Mutations in the rotated abdomen locus affect muscle development and reveal an intrinsic asymmetry in DrosophilaPNAS USA 93, 6048-6052 (1996)

Bourbon, HM; Martin-Blanco, E; Rosen, D; Kornberg, TB. Phosphorylation of the Drosophila Engrailed Protein at a site outside its Homeodomain enhances DNA-Binding. JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY 270, 11130-11139 (1995)

Martin-Blanco, E; Kornberg, TB. DR-78, a novel Drosophila melanogaster genomic DNA fragment highly homologous to the DNA-Binding Domain of Thyroid-Hormone Retinoic Acid Vitamin-D Receptor Subfamily. BIOCHIMICA ET BIOPHYSICA ACTA 1216, 339-341 (1993)

Martin-Blanco E; Valverde, JR; Flores, F; Vernos, I; Marco, R. S1 nuclease-sensitive sites in the bithoraxoid region of the Drosophila Ultrabithorax gene. BIOCHEMICAL AND BIOPHYSICAL RESEARCH COMMUNICATIONS 194, 647-653 (1993)

Rojas, JM; Dopazo, J; Martin-Blanco, E; Lopez-Galindez, C; Tabares, E. Analysis of genetic-variability of populations of Herpes-Simplex viruses. VIRUS RESEARCH 28, 249-261 (1993)

Kissinger, CR; Liu, BS; Martin-Blanco, E; Kornberg, TB; Pabo, CO. Crystal-structure of an Engrailed Homeodomain-DNA complex at 2.8-a resolution – a framework for understanding Homeodomain-DNA interactions. CELL 63, 579-590 (1990)

Liu, BS; Kissinger, CR; Pabo, CO; Martin-Blanco, E; Kornberg, TB. Crystallization and preliminary-X-Ray diffraction studies of the Engrailed Homeodomain and of an Engrailed Homeodomain DNA complex. BIOCHEMICAL AND BIOPHYSICAL RESEARCH COMMUNICATIONS 171, 257-259 (1990)

Patel, NH; Martin-Blanco, E; Coleman, KG; Poole, SJ; Ellis, MC; Kornberg, TB; Goodman, CS. Expression of Engrailed proteins in Arthropods, Annelids, and Chordates. CELL 58, 955-968 (1989)

Tabares, E; Olivares, I; Santurde, G; Garcia, MJ; Martin, E; Carnero, ME. African Swine Fever Virus-DNA – Deletions and additions during adaptation to growth in Monkey Kidney-Cells. ARCHIVES OF VIROLOGY 97, 333-346 (1987)

Domingo, A; Cervera, M; Martin, E; Marco, R. Biochemical-characterization and developmental behavior of Artemia embryonic and nauplial Deoxyribonucleases. BIOCHEMISTRY 25, 4125-4131 (1986)

Tabares, E; Martinez, J; Martin, E; Escribano, JM. Proteins specified by African Swine Fever Virus. 4. Glycoproteins and Phosphoproteins. ARCHIVES OF VIROLOGY 77, 167-180 (1983)

Cervera, M; Martin, E; Domingo, A; Vallejo, CG; Marco, R. DNase activity during early development in Artemia. pp 293-304 in: The brine shrimp ArtemiaVolume 2. Physiology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology (Bagshaw, JC) (1980)

Project funding

Ongoing Projects

Puesta a punto de un sistema de visualizacion “in vivo” de la actividad de cascadas de señalizacion en Drosophila mediante FRET

  • PERIOD:05/2003 – 06/2003
  • IP:Enrique Martín Blanco

A multi-organism functional genomics approach to study signalling pathways in epithelial fusion/wound healing. (WOUND)

  • PERIOD:01/2004 – 12/2007
  • IP: Enrique Martín Blanco

A multi-organism functional genomics approach to study signalling pathways in epithelial fusion/wound healing

  • AGENCY:Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología
  • PERIOD:05/2005 – 01/2007
  • IP: Enrique Martín Blanco

Reunión franco-catalana de biología del desarrollo de drosophila

  • AGENCY: Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia
  • PERIOD:01/2005 – 12/2005
  • IP: Enrique Martín Blanco

Workshop on cell and developmental biology of Drosophila

  • AGENCY:Plà de Recerca de Catalunya- C. Andalucía
  • PERIOD:07/009/2007 – 09/09/2007
  • IP: Enrique Martín Blanco

Bases moleculares y celulares de la expansión y fusión de Epitelios

  • AGENCY: Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia
  • PERIOD:12/2005 – 12/2008
  • IP: Enrique Martín Blanco

Ayuda para la preparación del proyecto ue: CELLSTRESS

  • AGENCY: Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia
  • PERIOD:12/2005 – 12/2006
  • IP: Enrique Martín Blanco

Concluded projects

Reference: BFU2015-71092-P
Title: The human pathogen Micoplasma Genitalum Motility Machinery.
Period: 01/01/2016-31/12/2018.

Role: PI.
Agency: Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad.


Post Doctoral Positions are availables. If you are interested please send us your CV and cover letter: Enrique Martín-Blanco (

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