Cell and Developmental biology


Microtubule Function and Cell Division

Isabelle Vernos (ICREA Research Professor and member of the ERC Scientific Council)
Sylvain Meunier
Nathalie Brouwers, Mónica Rodríguez de la Vega
Jacopo Scrofani (until October), Tommaso Cavazza, Miquel Rosas, Krystal Timon, Farners Amargant (since April)
Nuria Mallol Martínez, Leonor Ávila Goñi, Jacobo Cela Gallego


Figure 1 : The mitotic kinase has essential roles in the fine regulation of microtubule

Research in my lab is directed at understanding the role of the microtubule network in cell organization and function. To address this question we study various microtubule-associated proteins (molecular motors and MAPs) and their regulators (kinases, phosphatases and the small GTPase Ran during M-phase). One major goal is to unravel how the self-organization of cellular components results in the morphogenesis of dynamic molecular machines like the bipolar spindle that provides the forces to move and segregate accurately the chromosomes during mitosis and meiosis.


Figure 2: The mechanism of RanGTP induced microtubule nucleation relies on a specific nucleation complex

Our favourite experimental system is the Xenopus egg extract system for studies on cell cycle progression and regulation, microtubule dynamics, spindle assembly and chromosome behaviour (Karsenti and Vernos, 2001). We combine it with the use of human tissue culture cells in which we validate some of the results obtained in egg extract.

Research Projects

  • Mechanism of RanGTP dependent microtubule assembly (S Meunier, M Rosas, K. Timon)
  • Identification and functional characterization of tubulin modifications during mitosis (M Rodriguez)
  • Dynamics of spindle assembly (T Cavazza)
  • Function and regulation of Hklp2/Kif15 during mitosis (N Brouwers)
  • Mechanism of RanGTP dependent MT nucleation (J Scrofani, S Meunier)
  • The role of the sperm centrosome in fertility (F. Amargant, S. Meunier)

Selected Publications

Lioutas A, Vernos I.
“Aurora A: working from dawn to dusk in mitosis.”
Cell Cycle, 13(4):499-500 (2014).

Mortuza GB, Cavazza T, Garcia-Mayoral MF, Hermida D, Peset I, Pedrero JG, Merino N, Blanco FJ, Lyngsø J, Bruix M, Pedersen JS, Vernos I, Montoya G.
“XTACC3-XMAP215 association reveals an asymmetric interaction promoting microtubule elongation.”
Nat Commun, 5:5072 (2014).

Scrofani J, Sardon T, Meunier S, Vernos I.
“Microtubule Nucleation in Mitosis by a RanGTP-Dependent Protein Complex. “
Curr Biol, Epub 2014 Dec 18.