Following the completion of my Ph.D., I joined the group of Dr. Michaela Frye at the Wellcome Trust – MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute – University of Cambridge, to study the molecular basis of epidermal stem cell functions and the functional role of post-transcriptional RNA modifications in tissue homeostasis and the impact of their dysregulation in neurodevelopmental disorders and cancer. My work focused on the functional role of 5-methylcytosine deposition in transfer RNA. In October 2016, I was awarded a Ramón y Cajal fellowship and I was appointed junior investigator at the CIC bioGUNE in Spain. In August 2018 I was appointed a permanent position as a group leader of the Spanish Research Council at the Cancer Research Centre in Salamanca, Spain.
RNA modifications are beginning to define a novel layer of biological complexity that is becoming widely appreciated as the epitranscriptome. To date over 170 known chemical modifications are known in RNA and emerging evidence is revealing that post-transcriptional modifications mediate regulation of gene expression and protein translation efficiency and accuracy. Our main interest is to decipher novel epitranscriptomic mechanisms affecting human disorders, with special focus on cancer. We seek to understand how RNA modifications regulate self-renewal, differentiation, growth, survival and invasion processes in normal and malignant cells. To this aim, we combine state-of-the-art transcriptome-wide sequencing methods, with biochemical methods, mouse models, human cancer cell lines, stem cell cultures, patient samples and 3D culture models to study the role of post-transcriptional modifications such as RNA methylation in tissue and cancer stem cell functions, development and cancer initiation, progression, metastasis and therapy tolerance development.
Our current research projects:
1 – Identification and characterization of the epitranscriptome in cancer cells, with special focus on prostate cancer.
2 – The role of RNA modifications in the regulation of tissue growth in normal development and in cancer
3 – Determination of the therapeutic potential of the manipulation of the epitranscriptome of cancer cells.
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2 Davalos, V., Blanco, S. & Esteller, M. Cell 174, 498-98 e1, doi:10.1016/j.cell.2018.06.046 (2018).
3 Van Haute, L., Dietmann, S., Kremer, L., Hussain, S., Pearce, S. F. et al. Nat Commun 7, 12039, doi:10.1038/ncomms12039 (2016).
4 Popis, M. C., Blanco, S. & Frye, M. Curr Opin Oncol 28, 65-71, doi:10.1097/CCO.0000000000000252 (2016).
5 Frye, M. & Blanco, S. Development 143, 3871-81, doi:10.1242/dev.136556 (2016).
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7 Blanco, S., Bandiera, R., Popis, M., Hussain, S., Lombard, P. et al. Nature 534, 335-40, doi:10.1038/nature18282 (2016).
8 Satterlee, J. S., Basanta-Sanchez, M., Blanco, S., Li, J. B., Meyer, K. et al. J Neurosci 34, 15170-7, doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3236-14.2014 (2014).
9 Blanco, S. & Frye, M. Curr Opin Cell Biol 31C, 1-7, doi:10.1016/j.ceb.2014.06.006 (2014).
10 Blanco, S., Dietmann, S., Flores, J. V., Hussain, S., Kutter, C. et al. EMBO J 33, 2020-39, doi:10.15252/embj.201489282 (2014).
11 Hussain, S., Tuorto, F., Menon, S., Blanco, S., Cox, C. et al. Mol Cell Biol 33, 1561-70, doi:10.1128/MCB.01523-12 (2013).
12 Hussain, S., Sajini, A. A., Blanco, S., Dietmann, S., Lombard, P. et al. Cell Rep 4, 255-61, doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2013.06.029 (2013).
13 Hussain, S., Aleksic, J., Blanco, S., Dietmann, S. & Frye, M. Genome Biol 14, 215, doi:10.1186/gb4143 (2013).
14 Martinez, F. J., Lee, J. H., Lee, J. E., Blanco, S., Nickerson, E. et al. J Med Genet 49, 380-5, doi:10.1136/jmedgenet-2011-100686 (2012).
15 Blanco, S., Kurowski, A., Nichols, J., Watt, F. M., Benitah, S. A. et al. PLoS Genet 7, e1002403, doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002403 (2011).