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Rita Abranches Lab


The Plant Cell Biology Laboratory works on several aspects of the biology of the plant cell, with a main focus on the processes that regulate the successful expression of transgenes and synthesis of recombinant proteins in plant cell cultures. 

Rita Abranches
Investigador Principal
PhD 2000, John Innes Centre UK

Phone (+351) 214469637 | Extension 1637


Research Interests

We use transgenic plants as models to study several aspects of the biology of the plant cell. The main objective of our current research is to integrate the fundamental and applied aspects of Molecular Farming - the large scale production of recombinant proteins in plants - by determining which processes influence recombinant protein expression, accumulation and stability. We are particularly interested in understanding how transgene expression is influenced by higher-order chromatin structure, for example how integration and epigenetic modifications influence the expression and stability of transgenes. We are also studying the accumulation of recombinant products in the plant cell and how it is influenced by protein processing, transport and deposition in various tissues. For our studies we use transgenes encoding pharmaceutical and feed additive proteins, which adds an applied dimension to this research and enhances the importance of the fundamental cell biology questions we are addressing.


Group Members

  • André Folgado - PhD Student

  • Bárbara Rebelo - PhD Student

  • Denise Coutinho - PhD Student

  • Ana Rita Bragança - Master Student


Selected Publications

  1. Santos RB, Chandra B, Mandal MK, Kaschani F, Kaiser M, Both L, van der Hoorn RAL, Schiermeyer A, Abranches R. (2018). Low protease content in Medicago truncatula cell cultures facilitates recombinant protein production. Biotechnology Journal 13(7):e1800050.

  2. Santos RB, Pires AS and Abranches R (2017). Addition of a histone deacetylase inhibitor increases recombinant protein expression in Medicago truncatula cell cultures. Scientific Reports 7: 16756.

  3. Rosa S, Ntoukakis V, Ohmido N, Pendle A, Abranches R and Shaw P (2014). Cell differentiation and development in Arabidopsis are associated with changes in histone dynamics at the single cell level. The Plant Cell 26: 4821–4833.


Laboratory's Website

For further information please visit the laboratory's website

Biologia Celular de Plantas (PT)

As plantas podem ser usadas como sistemas de produção de biofármacos, em alternativa aos sistemas convencionais como culturas microbianas ou de células de mamíferos. Os sistemas vegetais apresentam diversas vantagens,  nomeadamente a possibilidade de produção de proteínas complexas em condições controladas e com um custo de produção reduzido. Neste laboratório estamos a testar diferentes espécies e sistemas de produção vegetais como potenciais bioreactores para a produção de biofármacos e aditivos para alimentação humana eanimal. Além disso, utilizamos estas plantas transgénicas como modelos de estudo de outros aspectos de biologia mais fundamental, que também são importantes para o sucesso da utilização destas plataformas, como por exemplo a estabilidade de expressão dos transgenes ou o processamento das proteínas ao longo da via secretora.


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