PhD Student

PhD program:: XXXVIII
phone: 0649902866
building: 20, piano C
room: 1

supervisor: Dott. Franco Cardone
advisor: Prof.ssa Francesca Cutruzzolà
co-supervisor: Dott. Simone Martinelli

Research: Consequences of microgravity on amyloid aggregate formation and amyloid-antibody binding using transgenic lines of Caenorhabditis elegans

April 2023 – present
Ph.D. – Student in Life Sciences at University of Rome “Sapienza”.

October 2020 – January 2023
Master’s degree in Genetics and Molecular Biology at University of Rome “Sapienza”. Experimental Thesis in Human Genetics entitled: “Functional characterization of pathogenic variants in the GNAO1 gene causative of epileptic encephalopathy and movement disorders using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism.”

October 2017 – December 2020
Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Molise. Compilatory thesis in Microbiology entitled: “Commensal streptococci serve as a reservoir for beta-lactam antibiotic resistance genes in Streptococcus pneumoniae.”

September 2012 – July 2017
Classical high school diploma at the “Luigi Sodo” paritarian classical high school in Cerreto Sannita.

Methodologies acquired: PCR, electrophoresis, Sanger sequencing, cloning, nucleic acid extraction, site-specific mutagenesis, knowledge to work with Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism for the study of genetic diseases (maintenance in culture, freezing, nucleic acid extraction, genome editing via CRISPR/Cas9, behavioral studies).

Brief description of the project:
Due to global phenomena such as pollution, overpopulation and climate change, in the not-too-distant future, humans will be forced to undertake long journeys into space where environmental conditions, such as microgravity and cosmic radiation, strongly affect human physiology. Although space biomedicine has recently experienced significant developments, studies conducted to understand the effects of these phenomena on pathophysiology (i.e., the presence of a disease), are still in their early stage.
This PhD project aims to study whether and how microgravity is able to influence the formation of protein aggregates, characteristic of several neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), by altering their structural dynamics. To this aim, transgenic lines of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) that constitutively express human beta-amyloid protein (Aβ1-42) at the level of neurons or muscles at the neuromuscular junction are used as an experimental model. Transgenic animals exhibit defects in locomotion and pharyngeal pumping, and show reduced lifespan.
In order to evaluate the potential effects of microgravity on these phenotypes, L1 larvae will be subjected to microgravity in a rotating cell culture bioreactor. Phenotypic analysis will be performed using an automated tracking platform. The effect of microgravity will be also evaluated in terms of binding affinity between protein aggregates and a panel of monoclonal antibodies currently used in clinical practice or under preclinical studies, with the ultimate goal of developing a rapid and effective screening system for the validation of novel antibodies with potential therapeutic roles.

Research products

11573/1698111 - 2023 - Phenotypic Assessment of Pathogenic Variants in GNAO1 and Response to Caffeine in C. elegans Models of the Disease
Di Rocco, Martina; Galosi, Serena; Follo, Francesca C.; Lanza, Enrico; Folli, Viola; Martire, Alberto; Leuzzi, Vincenzo; Martinelli, Simone - 01a Articolo in rivista
paper: GENES (Basel : Molecular Diversity Preservation International) pp. - - issn: 2073-4425 - wos: WOS:000939907000001 (3) - scopus: 2-s2.0-85148900984 (4)

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L'elenco e le finalità delle attività intraprese dalla Sapienza sono descritte nella pagina dedicata Sapienza per il Pnrr.

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