*Please note that Professor Sanz-Moreno and her team have moved to the Institute of Cancer research, but remain honorary members of the BCI.*
Our research focuses on how the cytoskeleton of cancer cells regulates transcriptional rewiring during tumour growth and dissemination. We aim to understand how such rewiring affects the tumour microenvironment.
AMPK is a mechano-metabolic sensor linking cell adhesion and mitochondrial dynamics to Myosin-dependent cell migration. Nat Commun (2023) 14(1) 2740. PMID: 37217519
LAP1 supports nuclear adaptability during constrained melanoma cell migration and invasion. Nature Cell Biology (2023) 25(7) 108-119. PMID: 36624187
WNT11-FZD7-DAAM1 signalling supports tumour initiating abilities and melanoma amoeboid invasion. Nat Commun (2020) 11(1):5315. PMID: 33082334
Myosin II reactivation and Cytoskeletal remodelling as a hallmark and a vulnerability in melanoma resistance. Cancer Cell (2020) 37(1):85-103. PMID: 31935375
Regional activation of Myosin II in cancer cells drives tumour progression via a secretory cross-talk with the immune microenvironment. Cell (2019) 176(4):757-774. PMID: 30712866
Rho GTPases are molecular switches that control the cytoskeleton. Deregulation of Rho GTPases can result in aberrant function and disease, including cancer. The spreading of cancer cells from one part of the body to another, called metastasis, is one of the biggest causes of cancer death. The other major challenge in the clinic is drug resistance. In our lab we are studying how Rho GTPase signalling and cytoskeletal remodelling can control many processes: invasion and metastasis, tumour promoting inflammation and drug responses. We are particularly interested in understanding how cancer cells sense extracellular signals via their cytoskeleton and integrate the responses altering transcription. On the other hand, how cancer cells interact with the tumour microenvironment is crucial for tumour progression and dissemination. We aim to understand how this communication is controlled by the cytoskeleton of cancer cells.
The lab combines 'OMICs', molecular biology, microscopy in 3D matrices, co-culture systems, animal models and digital pathology in patient tissues to identify molecular determinants driven by Rho GTPase signalling that drive cancer progression and metastatic potential. Our ultimate goal is to define if manipulations in the cytoskeleton of cancer cells will lead to improved efficacy of current therapeutic approaches.
I received my first degree in chemistry and later a masters degree in biochemistry from the University of Oviedo in Spain, followed by a PhD in chemical sciences at the University of Cantabria. After a short postdoc in the same lab with a Lady Tata Memorial Trust Fellowship, I moved to the Institute of Cancer Research in London as a CRUK and Marie Curie Intra-european Fellow with Chris Marshall. In 2008, I received an EACR 40th Anniversary Research Award. In 2011 I established my lab with a CRUK Career Development Fellowship at King’s College London (Randall Centre for cell and molecular biophysics). In 2015, I was highly commended as CRUK Communications and Brand Ambassador for communicating science to the public. In 2017 I was awarded the BSCB Women in Cell Biology Early Career Award Medal. The same year I received a CRUK Senior Fellowship and I was badged CRUK Werth Trust Fellow. I joined Barts Cancer Institute at Queen Mary University of London as a Professor of Cancer Cell Biology in 2018.
In 2019, I received The Distinguished Alumnus Award from Colegio Inmaculada (Asturias) and Paper of the Year Award at Barts Cancer Institute. In 2021, I was elected by school students to be part of “Ruta de las Cientificas”- a phone App celebrating the achievements of 9 women in STEM. In 2022, I received the Estela Medrano Memorial Award from the Society for Melanoma Research and the VP Award for Research Excellence from Queen Mary's Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.