PENNUTO MARIA

Contacts
E-mail
8154ac7fd2fa48bda6a73b6ea39a65fc
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Structure Department of Biomedical Sciences
Telephone +39 049 8276069
Qualification Professore associato confermato
Scientific sector BIO/11 - MOLECULAR BIOLOGY
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Office hours
Monday from 12:00 to 13:00 Complesso Vallisneri NORD, second floor
(updated on 24/04/2018 14:34)

Proposals for thesis
Students will investigate the molecular pathways underlying neurodegenerative diseases. We analyze the impact of post-translational modifications of disease-related proteins on the neurodegenerative process with the purpose to identify agents that target these post-translational modifications and have therapeutic relevance. We apply techniques of molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology and use in vitro and in vivo models. Students present their work at lab meeting, do Journal club activity, and present their work at National and International meetings.

Curriculum Vitae
EDUCATION/TRAINING
University “La Sapienza” Rome, Italy M.S. 1990-1996 Biological Sciences
University of Milan, Italy Ph.D. 1997-2000 Mol and Cell Biology

Positions and Employment
1996-1997 Intern, Biology, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Italy
1997-2000 Ph.D. Program, University of Milan (Mentor: Flavia Valtorta, MD)
2001-2005 Post-Doc Fellow, S. Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan (Mentor: Lawrence Wrabetz, MD)
2005-2008 Visiting Post-Doc Fellow, NIH-NINDS (Mentor: Kenneth Fischbeck, MD)
2008-2009 Staff Scientist, Dptm of Neurology, U. of Pennsylvania (Mentor: Dr J.P. Taylor, MD, PhD)
2009-2014 Group Leader, Italian Institute of Technology, Genoa, Italy
2013-2016 Assistant Professor (Tenure Track), CIBIO, University of Trento, Trento, Italy
2016-2017 Associate Professor, CIBIO, University of Trento, Trento, Italy
2017-present Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Padova, Italy

Honors
1997 A. Marzullo National Award for the Undergraduate Thesis, University of Trieste (Italy)
1998 European Science Foundation Travel Award
2003 Euresco Travel Award
2005 Telethon Post-Doctoral Competitive Fellowship Award
2009 Cover, Neuron
2010 Cover, Neuron
2011 IBRO Woman in Neuroscience Lecture, PACAP international symposium, Israel
2013 Dulbecco Telethon Institute Career Award
2017 Arimura Foundation State-of-Art Lecture Award, 13th International PACAP meeting, Hong Kong.

Professional Activities
2011 Chair, Molecular Mechanisms of Degeneration Meeting, Milan, Italy
2013 Meeting organizer, I Italian KDA meeting, Padova, Italy
2014 Chair, Motor Neuron Disease Satellite meeting, FENS, Milan, Italy
2015 Meeting organizer, II Italian KDA meeting, Trento, Italy
2015 Conference organizer, ENMC-International meeting on SBMA, Naarden, Netherlands.
2016 Conference committee and organizer, Fondazione Telethon Tri-Retreat, Rome, Italy

Lecturer's Curriculum (PDF): 8154AC7FD2FA48BDA6A73B6EA39A65FC.pdf

Research areas
Brain folding diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and polyglutamine diseases, are a broad class of neurodegenerative disorders. These diseases are characterized by selective degeneration of specific neuronal populations in the central nervous system. The basis for selective neuronal vulnerability remains an enigma. Polyglutamine diseases are a family of nine neurodegenerative diseases, including spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), Huntington’s disease (HD), DRPLA, and six types of spinocerebellar ataxia. Polyglutamine diseases are caused by expansion of the CAG repeat encoding glutamine in the coding region of specific genes. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is characterized by the selective loss of upper and lower motor neurons and skeletal muscle atrophy, wasting and paralysis with death of patients occurring in about three-five years from diagnosis. The majority of cases are sporadic (sALS), while a restricted number of cases is familial (fALS). sALS is a complex disease that is thought to result from the interplay between environmental and genetic factors. Our laboratory focuses on the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms underlying the degeneration and death of neurons with the aim to develop novel potential therapeutic strategies for these incurable disorders.

Using SBMA and HD as models of polyglutamine diseases and motor neuron disease, we study the relevance of the functional relationship between protein function and structure on disease pathogenesis. We aim at identifying post-translational modifications (PTMs) of the disease proteins that either enhance or suppress neurodegeneration, and use this information to identify drugs that activate cellular pathways to induce or attenuate such PTMs for therapy development.

Using inducible animal models of SBMA for spatial and temporal control of expression of the disease protein, we explore the role of peripheral tissues, such as skeletal muscle, to the pathogenesis of neuromuscular diseases. In addition, we investigate the molecular details of communication between neurons and non-neuronal cells and the relevance of metabolic tissues in neuromuscular diseases.

Publications
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=pennuto+m

List of taught course units in A.Y. 2018/19
Degree course code (?) Degree course track Course unit code Course unit name Credits Year Period Lang. Teacher in charge
SC2377 COMMON SCP7079400 6 2nd Year First
semester
ENG MARIA PENNUTO
ME1728 COMMON ME20100929 6 2nd Year First
semester
ITA STEFANO PICCOLO
ME1729 COMMON ME20100929 6 2nd Year First
semester
ITA MARCO MONTAGNER