Research and Interests
Dr. Valcárcel studies the complex molecular machinery that in the cell nucleus removes introns from the primary transcripts of genes, a process known as pre-mRNA splicing. He is particularly interested in how splicing is regulated to generate alternative mRNAs, a process used by the majority of human genes to generate proteins with different, even antagonistic functions. Alternative splicing is regulated during cell differentiation and development, and contributes to the normal physiology of multicellular organisms. Alterations in the splicing process are also a frequent cause of genetic diseases and contribute to common pathologies, including cancer. Understanding the underlying mechanisms that regulate alternative splicing of specific genes in specific physiological and pathological conditions can provide new ways to diagnose and target these.
Expertise and Capabilities
Dr. Valcárcel is an internationally recognized expert in the field of RNA Splicing.
Aside from consulting for companies in the field, he is the main inventor in a patent application (EP 14196170.6) protecting a method based on individually knocking down the components of the splicing machinery, analyzing their effects on alternative splicing events relevant for cell proliferation and apoptosis, and using this information to reconstruct a network of functional interactions. The network accurately captures known physical and functional associations and identifies new ones, revealing remarkable regulatory potential of core spliceosomal components. It can be used to infer targets for alternative splicing regulation, and drugs directed to diseases associated to altered splicing events.
Valcárcel’s group has also developed a reporter cell assay to screen for novel antitumor compounds that target the splicesome and modulate alternative splicing.
To know more about the group, please click here.