Research groups

Grupo: Functional Genomics and Biotechnology of ncRNAs

Research group: Functional Genomics and Biotechnology of ncRNAs

The development of massive sequencing techniques of nucleic acids has allowed to discover new forms and routes of regulation of the gene expression in living beings. All this information points to an enormous complexity in the biology of multicellular eukaryotes, which makes us rethink the classical concept of gene, as well as the possible function of each pair of bases of a given genome. Within this revolution, it can be highlighted the central role of the RNA macromolecule in a multitude of biological processes, beyond the classical intermediary of genetic information. Our group is interested into finding and characterizing new biological functions for non-coding RNAs, focusing especially on their catalytic (ribozymes) and regulatory (riboswitches) capabilities, as well as on providing biotechnological utility to any of new RNA motif that we may discover. For all this, in the laboratory we use multidisciplinary approaches that combine Bioinformatics, Biochemistry and Molecular and Structural Biology, and mostly using plants as an experimental biological reference system.


Current lines of research: 

• To understand the biological roles and functions of circular RNAs with ribozymes encoded in plant and animal genomes (Cervera et al, Genome Biol 2016, De la Peña, Cevera, RNA Biol 2017).

• Bioinformatic search and characterization of new catalytic and regulatory RNA motifs (De la Peña et al., Molecules 2017).

• Functional characterization of small ribozymes associated with retrotransposons (Cervera, de la Peña, Mol Biol Evol 2014).

• To decipher the role of the small ribozymes in the human genome conserved in introns of antioncogenes and tumor antigens (De la Peña, García-Robles, EMBO Rep 2010, De la Peña et al., Biol Chem 2012).

• The development of biotechnological tools based on circular RNAs with ribozymes for gene therapies (De la Peña, Adv Exp Medicine Biology 2018).


Staff Researcher: Marcos de la Peña (Tenured scientist CSIC)

Post-doctoral Researcher: Amelia Cevera Olagüe (Contracted Doctor)

Laboratory technician: María Pedrote Partida


Recent publications

  • De la Peña M (2018) Small self-cleaving ribozymes in the genomes of vertebrates. In Ribozymes (Mueller, Masquida, Winkler, Eds.) Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, Berlin (In press)

  • De la Peña M (2018) Circular RNAs Biogenesis in Eukaryotes Through Self-Cleaving Hammerhead Ribozymes. Adv Exp Med Biol 1087:53-63. 

  • Rico P, Rodrigo-Navarro A, de la Peña M, Moulisova V, Costell M, Salmerón-Sánchez M (2018) Simultaneous Boron Ion-Channel/Growth Factor Receptor Activation for Enhanced Vascularization. Adv Biosys1800220.

  • Alquézar B, Rodríguez A, de la Peña M, Peña L (2017) Genomic Analysis of Terpene Synthase Family and Functional Characterization of Seven Sesquiterpene Synthases from Citrus sinensis. Front Plant Sci 8:1481.

  • De la Peña M, Cervera A (2017) Circular RNAs with hammerhead ribozymes encoded in eukaryotic genomes: The enemy at home. RNA Biol 14(8):985-991.

  • De la Peña M, García-Robles I, Cervera A (2017) The Hammerhead Ribozyme: A Long History for a Short RNA. Molecules 22(1). pii: E78.

  • Cervera A, Urbina D, de la Peña M (2016) Retrozymes are a unique family of non-autonomous retrotransposons with hammerhead ribozymes that propagate in plants through circular RNAs. Genome Biol 17(1):135.

  • Cervera A, de la Peña M (2014) Eukaryotic penelope-like retroelements encode hammerhead ribozyme motifs. Mol Biol Evol 31(11):2941-7.

  • Kyrieleis OJ, Chang J, de la Peña M, Shuman S, Cusack S (2014) Crystal structure of vaccinia virus mRNA capping enzyme provides insights into the mechanism and evolution of the capping apparatus. Structure 4;22(3):452-65.

  • García-Robles I, Sánchez-Navarro J, de la Peña M (2012) Intronic hammerhead ribozymes in mRNA biogenesis. Biol Chem 393(11):1317-26. 

  • Hammann C, Luptak A, Perreault J, de la Peña M (2012) The ubiquitous hammerhead ribozyme. RNA 18(5):871-85.

  • Kalweit A, Przybilski R, Seehafer C, de la Peña M, Hammann C (2012) Characterization of hammerhead ribozyme reactions. Methods Mol Biol 848:5-20.

  • De la Peña M, García-Robles I (2010) Ubiquitous presence of the hammerhead ribozyme motif along the tree of life. RNA 16(10):1943-50.

  • De la Peña M, García-Robles I (2010) Intronic hammerhead ribozymes are ultraconserved in the human genome. EMBO Rep 11(9):711-6.

Staff Researchers

Other Group Members

  • de la Peña M, Ceprián R, Cervera A. (2020)
    A peculiar and widespread group of mobile genetic elements: RNA circles with autocatalytic ribozymes
  • Cervera A, de la Peña M (2020)
    Cloning and Detection of Genomic Retrozymes and Their circRNA Intermediates
    Methods Mol Biol.2167:27-44
  • Cervera A, de la Peña M (2020)
    Small circRNAs with self-cleaving ribozymes are highly expressed in diverse metazoan transcriptomes
    Nucleic Acids Res. 48(9):5054-5064
. (2016)
The role of autocatalytic and circular RNAs in the mechanism of eukaryotic DNA retrotransposition (BFU2017-87370-P)
Entidad financiadora: 
Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades
Marcos de la Peña