Department: Animal Reproduction



To understand the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that controls the early embryo development in vivo and in vitro. Analyse the impact of preimplantation development for foetal development and adult. Development of CRISPR technology for genetic modification in species of livestock interest. Analyse the mechanisms of in vitro sperm selection. Determine the role of mRNA splicing on regulation of embryo development; sex determination; and fertility.

Key words: embryo; early development; genetic and epigenetic regulation; assisted reproduction; thermotaxis; Crispr and transgenesis.

[Picture of the research group]
  • Researcher contact: Alfonso Gutierrez Adán
  • Address: Avda. Puerta de Hierro, nº12, local 10. 28040 MADRID (España)
  • Telephone: 91 3473768
  • e-mail:

Foto de Alfonso Gutiérrez

Research summary

Our long-term aims are to understand epigenetic regulation of gene expression in early mammalian development and stem cells. The preimplantation embryo stage is an essential tool for many areas of biotechnology, such as those used in animal production, assisted reproduction, production of stem cells for cell therapy, transgenic animal production, conservation of germplasm, etc. At the same time is a unique tool for understanding mechanisms of genetic and epigenetic reprogramming that occurs not only during the preimplantation development, but also in other processes like the formation and differentiation of stem cells, tumour formation and aging, as well as derivatives of certain technologies such as transgenesis and nuclear transfer. The unit is pioneer in the transcriptomic and epigenomic analysis of preimplantation embryos in animals’ models and farm animals, with the objective of improve the techniques of embryo manipulation and to produce viable embryos with greater efficiency and quality. We are also analysing the genetic and epigenetic reprogramming that occurs during the formation and differentiation of embryonic stem cells and in reprogramming adult cells to inducible stem cells. We are pioneers in the development of new techniques for transgenesis. We are also analysing how alteration in early developmental networks can expose otherwise buffered stochastic variability in gene expression, leading to pronounced phenotypic variation (both in animal production traits as the origin of adult diseases).

Among the major achievements of 2015 emphasize that we have determined that imprinting erasure during reprogramming depends on the epigenetic landscape of the precursor cell and is mediated by TETs at the H19 locus; that opsins can act in the spermatozoa as thermosensors; that embryo transfer affect postnatal development; we had produce a Dazl-GFP transgenic model that allows identification of adult pluripotent cells; we have develop a new system to produce transgenic mice using ICSI and spermatids (ROSI); we have found that the elimination of methylation marks at lysines 4 and 9 of histone 3 (H3K4 and H3K9) of spermatozoa alters offspring phenotype; and we have determined that the mechanism of sperm thermotaxis are related with the hyperactivation.