Luciano Di Croce
Research and Interests
Dr. Di Croce’s interest goes beyond the classical topic of intensive research on the role of gene mutations in relation to tumorigenesis. His laboratory is one of the very few addressing the molecular basis of epigenetic alterations rather than gene mutations, during the early phase of tumorigenesis, that is: how epigenetic modifications and chromatin changes are established and, once in place, how they affect gene expression, cell differentiation and transformation. His research focuses in particular in understanding the role of several protein complexes that are involved in chromatin dynamics and metabolism (Polycomb and others), which when altered could participate in the establishment and maintenance of the aberrant silencing of tumor suppressor genes during transformation. This will contribute to the identification of new biological tools with a potential impact on cancer therapeutic intervention.
Expertise and Capabilities
Gene expression and differentiation are mainly investigated in Di Croces’s lab using mouse embryonic stem cells, which can be induced to differentiate into embryoid bodies, neuronal precursors, cardiomyocytes, etc. Leukemia is the primary cancer model system studied in the lab, using either mouse models that recapitulate human leukemia or primary samples from human leukemic patients to investigate the links between epigenetic alterations and tumorigenesis.
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