Stem Cells Biology Group


About the Lab

The Stem Cells Biology Laboratory (SCL) investigates mostly the molecular mechanisms involved in pluripotency, heart development and cardiomyopathies using embryonic stem cells (ESC) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). We are particularly interested in the identification of pathways and genes controlling the establishment and the maintenance of pluripotent stem cells (ESC and iPSC), and we have used these cells to unravel the early mechanisms of cardiovascular differentiation and congenital heart disease. Importantly, we have identified molecules in the ESC’s secretome that can rescue the lethality and heart developmental defects of deficient zebrafish embryos, when supplemented at 1-cell stage. Recently, we have also gained interest in understanding the mechanisms involved in the stemness and biology of cancer stem cells.


Team Members

Sofia Calado, PhD
Auxiliary Researcher

Bld 2, Lab 3.66, ext: 303940

Mónica Fernandes, PhD
Invited Adjunct Professor at the Superior School of Health

Bld 2, Lab 3.66, ext: 303940

Filipa Esteves, PhD
Postdoc Researcher
Leonardo Silva, MSc
PhD student ProReGeM PhD Programme 2018

Bld 2, Lab 3.66, ext: 303940

Joana Andrade, MSc
PhD student Biomedical Sciences PhD Programme 2021

Bld 2, Lab 3.66, ext: 303940

Anita Ferreira, BSc
Master student, Master of Biomedical Sciences – Mechanisms of Disease

Bld 2, Lab 3.66, ext: 303940

Cátia Correia, BSc
Master student, Master of Biomedical Sciences – Mechanisms of Disease

Bld 2, Lab 3.66, ext: 303940

Giulia Donnici, BSc
Master student - Master of Biomedical Sciences – Mechanisms of Disease

Bld 2, Lab 3.66, ext: 303940

Pedro Sousa, BSc
Master student, Master of Biomedical Sciences – Mechanisms of Disease

Bld 2, Lab 3.66, ext: 303940

Félix Andújar Sánchez, MSc
Erasmus+ student

Bld 2, Lab 3.66, ext: 303940

Selected Publications

2021 | Calado SM, Bento D, Marques N and Bragança J – Generation and cardiac differentiation of a human induced pluripotent stem cell line UALGi002-A from a female patient with Left-Ventricular Noncompaction Cardiomyopathy – Stem Cell Res., 55, 102462.

2021 | Calado SM, Bento D, Justino D, Mendes-Silva L, Marques N and Bragança J – Generation of a human induced pluripotent stem cell line (UALGi001-A) from a patient with Left-Ventricular Noncompaction Cardiomyopathy – Stem Cell Res. 53, 102302.

2019 | Santos JMA, Mendes-Silva L, Afonso V, Martins G, Machado RSR, Lopes JA, Cancela L, Futschik ME, Sachinidis A, Gavaia P and Bragança J – Exogenous Wnt5a and Wnt11 proteins rescue Cited2 dysfunction in mouse embryonic stem cells and zebrafish morphants – Cell Death & Disease, 10, 582.

2017 | Charneca JMatias ACEscapa ALFernandes CAlves ASantos JMANascimento R and Bragança J – Ectopic expression of CITED2 prior to reprogramming, promotes and homogenises the conversion of somatic cells into induced pluripotent stem cells –  Exp. Cell Res. 359, 290-300.

2016 | Pacheco-Leyva I, Matias AC, Oliveira DV, Santos JMA, Nascimento R, Guerreiro E, Michell AC, van De Vrugt AM, Machado-Oliveira G, Ferreira G, Domian I and Bragança J – Cited2 cooperates with Isl1 and promotes cardiac differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells – Stem Cell Reports 7, 1037–1049.

2015 | Machado-Oliveira G, Guerreiro EMatias ACFacucho-Oliveira JPacheco-Leyva I and Bragança J – FBXL5 modulates HIF-1α transcriptional activity by degradation of CITED2 – Arch. Biochem. Biophys. 576, 61-72.

2015 | Kranc KR, Oliveira DV, Armesilla-Diaz A, Pacheco-Leyva IMatias AC,  Escapa AL,  Subramani C, Wheadon H, Trindade M, Nichols J, Kaji K, Enver T and Bragança J. – Acute loss of Cited2 impairs Nanog expression and decreases self-renewal of mouse embryonic stem cells – Stem Cells 33, 699-712.

2004 | Bamforth SD, Bragança J, Farthing CR, Schneider JE, Broadbent C, Clarke K, Neubauer S, Brown NA, Anderson RH and Bhattacharya S – Cited2 controls left-right patterning and heart development through a Nodal–Pitx2c pathway – Nature Genet. 36, 1189-1196.

2002  Bragança J, Swingler T,  Marques FIR, Jones T, Eloranta JJ, Hurst HC, Shioda T and Bhattacharya S – Human CREB-binding protein/p300-interacting transactivator with ED-rich tail (CITED) 4, a new member of the CITED family, functions as a co-activator for transcription factor AP-2 – J. Biol. Chem.  277, 8559-8565.

2001 | Bamforth SD, Bragança J, Eloranta JJ, Murdoch JN, Marques FIR, Kranc RK, Farza H, Henderson DJ, Hurst HC and Bhattacharya S –  Cardiac malformations, adrenal agenesis, neural crest defects and exencephaly in mice lacking Cited2, a new Tfap2 co-activator – Nature Genet.  29, 469-474.


Project: Variant sequences Identification in human genomes and Their Assignment as true causative mutations for LVNC – VITAL
Period of execution: 2018-2021
Coordinator: José Bragança
Funding agency: FCT/CCDR ALGARVE ALG-01-0145-FEDER-28044

Project: ALgarve Fit Ageing Score: a new integrative tool for quality of life improvement and healthy ageing – ALFA Score
Period of execution: 1/01/2021 – 31/12/2023
Coordinator: Pedro Castelo-Branco
Role: José Bragança is co-PI
Funding agency: Programa Operacional Regional do Algarve- CRESC Algarve (FEDER) – FCT/CCDR ALGARVE (ALG-45-2020-41)

Project: PtCAC – CRE-ABC, Portuguese Network of Clinical Academic Centers: Center of Research Excellence of the Academic Center for Biomedical Research and Training in the Algarve
Period of execution: 2021-2023
Coordinator: José Bragança
Role: Coordinate the implementation of the blood and umbilical cord cells Bank
Funding agency: FCT/CCDR ALGARVE ALG-45-2020-42

Project: REFOXY PHARMA, Developing drug candidates capable of regulating FOXO factors as potential therapeutics for healthy aging
Period of execution: 2021
Coordinator: Wolfgang Link (Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas “Alberto Sols” (CSIC-UAM)
Funding agency: Refoxy Pharmaceuticals GmbH

Project: Wakening of the oocyte: transcriptional reactivation after prolonged quiescence
Period of execution: 2018-2021
Coordinator: Dr Rui Gonçalo Martinho (University of Aveiro)
Funding agency: FCT CCDR ALGARVE-ALG-01-0145-FEDER-28041


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