One of the biggest challenges in the modern molecular biology is to identify and functionally validate miRNAs and their interactions with emerging classes of other noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs).

microRNAs (miRNAs) are a class small, single-stranded noncoding RNA molecules that control the expression of target genes mainly at the post-transcriptional level. Our lab contributed to uncover a prominent role for miRNAs as regulatory molecules that orchestrate gene expression in brain development, function and dysfunction (Barca-Mayo & De Pietri Tonelli. 2014). Our studies aim to uncover the mechanism and impact of ncRNA-dependent control of gene expression in brain science with the long-term goal to develop a next generation of therapeutics and diagnostics.

  • Brain science program: The overarching goal of our research is to understand the role played by miRNAs in mammalian brain development and (dys)function.
  • Health program: our task is to use small ncRNAs as a technology to develop novel RNA-based drugs for therapy and cell reprogramming. Our projects might have the potential to develop radically new approaches for brain therapy and repair.

Laboratories

Mol.biol. lab; cell cultures facilities (primary neural cells, immortalized lines); induced pluripotent human stem cells lab; histology lab. Access to IIT core facilities: Virus, Nikon center, Animal facility (SPF, individually ventilated cages; Surgery: electroporation, virus injection; behavior rooms; black cages in collaboration with Tecniplast (Italy)). Deep RNA/DNA seq. and RNAi screening facility.

Collaborations

Internal

  • NBT@IIT – Nets3-lab (L. Berdondini) lab-on-chip read-outs for genetic models of human neural disorders
  • CGS@SEMM (F. Nicassio), RNA profiling in differentiating NSCs
  • NAPH@IIT (F. Cella) Selective Plane Illumination Microscopy for the imaging of brain slices
  • D3@IIT – Nanomaterials for biochemicals (T. Pellegrino) Nanoparticles for RNA delivery in cancer stem cells
  • D3@IIT – Nanotechnology for Precision Medicine (P. Decuzzi) Polymeric nanostructures for RNA delivery in brain

External

  • Prof. Dr. Gerd Kempermann, Director, Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen (DZNE), Dresden; and CRTD Dresden, Germany. Topic: Adult Neurogenesis
  • Prof. Dr. Wieland B. Huttner, Director, Max-Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biol and Genetics, Dresden, Germany. Topic: Embryonic Neurogenesis

Industrial collaborations

  • Tecniplast Spa, Buguggiate, VA, Italy.