portrait of Dr. Luciano Di Croce

Dr Luciano Di Croce

Scientific coordinator of 4DCellFate, based at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona, Spain

Research field

Epigenetics, Stem cells, Cancer

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Research Profile


“We are addressing a basic question of life: how does a cell decide what it wants to become? This simple question is actually quite complex. We believe we can partly answer it by analysing 2 regulatory complexes called ‘polycomb repressive complex 1’ (PRC1) and ‘nucleosome remodelling & deacetylation’ (NuRD)”, says Dr Di Croce.


Epigenetic changes can determine the fate of a cell in which they occur, allowing 2 cells with identical DNA to respond differently to environmental cues. The fate of both normal stem cells and cancer stem cells is regulated by PRC1 and NuRD. Thus, a detailed understanding of these complexes opens possibilities to fight cancer.


We will elucidate how PRC1 and NuRD determine cell fate by regulating epigenetic changes during the differentiation of stem cells. Epigenetic changes are modifications of the DNA or the histone proteins that compact DNA. The changes do not affect the DNA code, but they modify the ability of genes to be expressed.


The 4DCellFate network consists of 11 European institutes with 13 scientific laboratories, 2 small and medium enterprises and a large pharmaceutical company. Our highly ambitious project is successful as a result of the close collaboration of our scientists. This allows us to combine the expertise from diverse research fields.

What determines the fate of a stem cell?

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Image credits

Background image: 4DCellFate

Portrait of the project coordinator: 4DCellFate

Timeline (in chronological order): 1978: John Tann on Flickr Creative Commons; 1998: J. E. Poirrier on Flickr Creative Commons; 2003: Tatiana Bulyonkova on Flickr Creative Commons; 2008: A.J. Cann on Flickr Creative Commons