Publications by authors named "Francesca Cipressa"

13 Publications

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Biallelic mutations in RNF220 cause laminopathies featuring leukodystrophy, ataxia and deafness.

Brain 2021 May 8. Epub 2021 May 8.

Genetics and Rare Diseases Research Division, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, IRCCS, 00146 Rome, Italy.

Leukodystrophies are a heterogeneous group of rare inherited disorders that involve preferentially the white matter of the central nervous system (CNS). These conditions are characterized by a primary glial cell and myelin sheath pathology of variable etiology, which causes secondary axonal degeneration, generally emerging with disease progression. Whole exome sequencing performed in 5 large consanguineous nuclear families allowed to identify homozygosity for two recurrent missense variants affecting highly conserved residues of RNF220 as the causative event underlying a novel form of leukodystrophy with ataxia and sensorineural deafness. We report on two homozygous missense variants (p.R363Q and p.R365Q) in the ubiquitin E3 ligase RNF220 as the cause underlying a novel form of leukodystrophy with ataxia and sensorineural deafness having fibrotic cardiomyopathy and hepatopathy as associated features, in seven consanguineous families. Mass spectrometry analysis identified lamin B1 as RNF220 binding protein and co-immunoprecipitation experiments demonstrated reduced binding of both RNF220 mutants to lamin B1. We demonstrate that RNF220 silencing in Drosophila melanogaster specifically affects proper localization of lamin Dm0, the fly lamin B1 orthologue, promotes its aggregation, and causes a neurodegenerative phenotype, strongly supporting the functional link between RNF220 and lamin B1. Finally, we demonstrate that RNF220 plays a crucial role in the maintenance of nuclear morphology: mutations primary skin fibroblasts determine nuclear abnormalities such as blebs, herniations and invaginations, which are typically observed in cells of patients affected by laminopathies. Overall, our data identify RNF220 as a gene implicated in leukodystrophy with ataxia and sensorineural deafness, and document a critical role of RNF220 in the regulation of nuclear lamina. Our findings provide further evidence on the direct link between nuclear lamina dysfunction and neurodegeneration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awab185DOI Listing
May 2021

Underground Radiobiology: A Perspective at Gran Sasso National Laboratory.

Front Public Health 2020 7;8:611146. Epub 2020 Dec 7.

Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso-INFN, Assergi, L'Aquila, Italy.

Scientific community and institutions (e. g., ICRP) consider that the Linear No-Threshold (LNT) model, which extrapolates stochastic risk at low dose/low dose rate from the risk at moderate/high doses, provides a prudent basis for practical purposes of radiological protection. However, biological low dose/dose rate responses that challenge the LNT model have been highlighted and important dowels came from radiobiology studies conducted in Deep Underground Laboratories (DULs). These extreme ultra-low radiation environments are ideal locations to conduct below-background radiobiology experiments, interesting from basic and applied science. The INFN Gran Sasso National Laboratory (LNGS) (Italy) is the site where most of the underground radiobiological data has been collected so far and where the first underground experiment was carried out using as model organism. Presently, many DULs around the world have implemented dedicated programs, meetings and proposals. The general message coming from studies conducted in DULs using protozoan, bacteria, mammalian cells and organisms (flies, worms, fishes) is that environmental radiation may trigger biological mechanisms that can increase the capability to cope against stress. However, several issues are still open, among them: the role of the quality of the radiation spectrum in modulating the biological response, the dependence on the biological endpoint and on the model system considered, the overall effect at organism level (detrimental or beneficial). At LNGS, we recently launched the RENOIR experiment aimed at improving knowledge on the environmental radiation spectrum and to investigate the specific role of the gamma component on the biological response of .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2020.611146DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7750398PMC
May 2021

The Citrate Lyase Is Required for Cell Division during Spermatogenesis.

Cells 2020 01 14;9(1). Epub 2020 Jan 14.

Dipartimento di Biologia e Biotecnologie "C. Darwin", SAPIENZA Università di Roma, P.le A. Moro 5, 00185 Rome, Italy.

The gene encodes for the human ATP Citrate Lyase (ACL) ortholog, a metabolic enzyme that from citrate generates glucose-derived Acetyl-CoA, which fuels central biochemical reactions such as the synthesis of fatty acids, cholesterol and acetylcholine, and the acetylation of proteins and histones. We had previously reported that, although loss of ATPCL reduced levels of Acetyl-CoA, unlike its human counterpart, it does not affect global histone acetylation and gene expression, suggesting that its role in histone acetylation is either partially redundant in or compensated by alternative pathways. Here, we describe that depletion of DmATPCL affects spindle organization, cytokinesis, and fusome assembly during male meiosis, revealing an unanticipated role for DmATPCL during spermatogenesis. We also show that mutant meiotic phenotype is in part caused by a reduction of fatty acids, but not of triglycerides or cholesterol, indicating that DmATPCL-derived Acetyl-CoA is predominantly devoted to the biosynthesis of fatty acids during spermatogenesis. Collectively, our results unveil for the first time an involvement for DmATPCL in the regulation of meiotic cell division, which is likely conserved in human cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cells9010206DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7016701PMC
January 2020

NBS1 interacts with HP1 to ensure genome integrity.

Cell Death Dis 2019 12 13;10(12):951. Epub 2019 Dec 13.

Dipartimento di Biologia e Biotecnologie "C. Darwin", Sapienza Università di Roma, Rome, Italy.

Heterochromatin Protein 1 (HP1) and the Mre11-Rad50-Nbs1 (MRN) complex are conserved factors that play crucial role in genome stability and integrity. Despite their involvement in overlapping cellular functions, ranging from chromatin organization, telomere maintenance to DNA replication and repair, a tight functional relationship between HP1 and the MRN complex has never been elucidated. Here we show that the Drosophila HP1a protein binds to the MRN complex through its chromoshadow domain (CSD). In addition, loss of any of the MRN members reduces HP1a levels indicating that the MRN complex acts as regulator of HP1a stability. Moreover, overexpression of HP1a in nbs (but not in rad50 or mre11) mutant cells drastically reduces DNA damage associated with the loss of Nbs suggesting that HP1a and Nbs work in concert to maintain chromosome integrity in flies. We have also found that human HP1α and NBS1 interact with each other and that, similarly to Drosophila, siRNA-mediated inhibition of NBS1 reduces HP1α levels in human cultured cells. Surprisingly, fibroblasts from Nijmegen Breakage Syndrome (NBS) patients, carrying the 657del5 hypomorphic mutation in NBS1 and expressing the p26 and p70 NBS1 fragments, accumulate HP1α indicating that, differently from NBS1 knockout cells, the presence of truncated NBS1 extends HP1α turnover and/or promotes its stability. Remarkably, an siRNA-mediated reduction of HP1α in NBS fibroblasts decreases the hypersensitivity to irradiation, a characteristic of the NBS syndrome. Overall, our data provide an unanticipated evidence of a close interaction between HP1 and NBS1 that is essential for genome stability and point up HP1α as a potential target to counteract chromosome instability in NBS patient cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41419-019-2185-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6911104PMC
December 2019

Phenotypic characterization of diamond (dind), a Drosophila gene required for multiple aspects of cell division.

Chromosoma 2018 12 18;127(4):489-504. Epub 2018 Aug 18.

Dipartimento di Biologia e Biotecnologie "C. Darwin", Sapienza, Università di Roma, Rome, Italy.

Many genes are required for the assembly of the mitotic apparatus and for proper chromosome behavior during mitosis and meiosis. A fruitful approach to elucidate the mechanisms underlying cell division is the accurate phenotypic characterization of mutations in these genes. Here, we report the identification and characterization of diamond (dind), an essential Drosophila gene required both for mitosis of larval brain cells and for male meiosis. Larvae homozygous for any of the five EMS-induced mutations die in the third-instar stage and exhibit multiple mitotic defects. Mutant brain cells exhibit poorly condensed chromosomes and frequent chromosome breaks and rearrangements; they also show centriole fragmentation, disorganized mitotic spindles, defective chromosome segregation, endoreduplicated metaphases, and hyperploid and polyploid cells. Comparable phenotypes occur in mutant spermatogonia and spermatocytes. The dind gene encodes a non-conserved protein with no known functional motifs. Although the Dind protein exhibits a rather diffuse localization in both interphase and mitotic cells, fractionation experiments indicate that some Dind is tightly associated with the chromatin. Collectively, these results suggest that loss of Dind affects chromatin organization leading to defects in chromosome condensation and integrity, which in turn affect centriole stability and spindle assembly. However, our results do not exclude the possibility that Dind directly affects some behaviors of the spindle and centrosomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00412-018-0680-yDOI Listing
December 2018

Fruit Flies Provide New Insights in Low-Radiation Background Biology at the INFN Underground Gran Sasso National Laboratory (LNGS).

Radiat Res 2018 09 4;190(3):217-225. Epub 2018 Jun 4.

a   Dipartimento Biologia e Biotecnologie "C. Darwin", SAPIENZA Università di Roma, Rome, Italy.

Deep underground laboratories (DULs) were originally created to host particle, astroparticle or nuclear physics experiments requiring a low-background environment with vastly reduced levels of cosmic-ray particle interference. More recently, the range of science projects requiring an underground experiment site has greatly expanded, thus leading to the recognition of DULs as truly multidisciplinary science sites that host important studies in several fields, including geology, geophysics, climate and environmental sciences, technology/instrumentation development and biology. So far, underground biology experiments are ongoing or planned in a few of the currently operating DULs. Among these DULs is the Gran Sasso National Laboratory (LNGS), where the majority of radiobiological data have been collected. Here we provide a summary of the current scenario of DULs around the world, as well as the specific features of the LNGS and a summary of the results we obtained so far, together with other findings collected in different underground laboratories. In particular, we focus on the recent results from our studies of Drosophila melanogaster, which provide the first evidence of the influence of the radiation environment on life span, fertility and response to genotoxic stress at the organism level. Given the increasing interest in this field and the establishment of new projects, it is possible that in the near future more DULs will serve as sites of radiobiology experiments, thus providing further relevant biological information at extremely low-dose-rate radiation. Underground experiments can be nicely complemented with above-ground studies at increasing dose rate. A systematic study performed in different exposure scenarios provides a potential opportunity to address important radiation protection questions, such as the dose/dose-rate relationship for cancer and non-cancer risk, the possible existence of dose/dose-rate threshold(s) for different biological systems and/or end points and the possible role of radiation quality in triggering the biological response.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1667/RR15083.1DOI Listing
September 2018

Effects of reduced natural background radiation on Drosophila melanogaster growth and development as revealed by the FLYINGLOW program.

J Cell Physiol 2018 Jan 5;233(1):23-29. Epub 2017 Jun 5.

SAPIENZA Università di Roma, Rome, Italy.

Natural background radiation of Earth and cosmic rays played a relevant role during the evolution of living organisms. However, how chronic low doses of radiation can affect biological processes is still unclear. Previous data have indicated that cells grown at the Gran Sasso Underground Laboratory (LNGS, L'Aquila) of National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) of Italy, where the dose rate of cosmic rays and neutrons is significantly reduced with respect to the external environment, elicited an impaired response against endogenous damage as compared to cells grown outside LNGS. This suggests that environmental radiation contributes to the development of defense mechanisms at cellular level. To further understand how environmental radiation affects metabolism of living organisms, we have recently launched the FLYINGLOW program that aims at exploiting Drosophila melanogaster as a model for evaluating the effects of low doses/dose rates of radiation at the organismal level. Here, we will present a comparative data set on lifespan, motility and fertility from different Drosophila strains grown in parallel at LNGS and in a reference laboratory at the University of L'Aquila. Our data suggest the reduced radiation environment can influence Drosophila development and, depending on the genetic background, may affect viability for several generations even when flies are moved back to normal background radiation. As flies are considered a valuable model for human biology, our results might shed some light on understanding the effect of low dose radiation also in humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jcp.25889DOI Listing
January 2018

The Drosophila telomere-capping protein Verrocchio binds single-stranded DNA and protects telomeres from DNA damage response.

Nucleic Acids Res 2017 04;45(6):3068-3085

Dipartimento di Biologia e Biotecnologie 'C. Darwin', Sapienza, Università di Roma, 00185 Roma, Italy.

Drosophila telomeres are sequence-independent structures maintained by transposition to chromosome ends of three specialized retroelements rather than by telomerase activity. Fly telomeres are protected by the terminin complex that includes the HOAP, HipHop, Moi and Ver proteins. These are fast evolving, non-conserved proteins that localize and function exclusively at telomeres, protecting them from fusion events. We have previously suggested that terminin is the functional analogue of shelterin, the multi-protein complex that protects human telomeres. Here, we use electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) to show that Ver preferentially binds single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) with no sequence specificity. We also show that Moi and Ver form a complex in vivo. Although these two proteins are mutually dependent for their localization at telomeres, Moi neither binds ssDNA nor facilitates Ver binding to ssDNA. Consistent with these results, we found that Ver-depleted telomeres form RPA and γH2AX foci, like the human telomeres lacking the ssDNA-binding POT1 protein. Collectively, our findings suggest that Drosophila telomeres possess a ssDNA overhang like the other eukaryotes, and that the terminin complex is architecturally and functionally similar to shelterin.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkw1244DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5389638PMC
April 2017

A role for Separase in telomere protection.

Nat Commun 2016 Jan 18;7:10405. Epub 2016 Jan 18.

Department of Biology and Biotechnology "Charles Darwin" Section of Genetics, SAPIENZA University of Rome, P.le Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Rome, Italy.

Drosophila telomeres are elongated by transposition of specialized retroelements rather than telomerase activity and are assembled independently of the sequence. Fly telomeres are protected by the terminin complex that localizes and functions exclusively at telomeres and by non-terminin proteins that do not serve telomere-specific functions. We show that mutations in the Drosophila Separase encoding gene Sse lead not only to endoreduplication but also telomeric fusions (TFs), suggesting a role for Sse in telomere capping. We demonstrate that Separase binds terminin proteins and HP1, and that it is enriched at telomeres. Furthermore, we show that loss of Sse strongly reduces HP1 levels, and that HP1 overexpression in Sse mutants suppresses TFs, suggesting that TFs are caused by a HP1 diminution. Finally, we find that siRNA-induced depletion of ESPL1, the Sse human orthologue, causes telomere dysfunction and HP1 level reduction in primary fibroblasts, highlighting a conserved role of Separase in telomere protection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms10405DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4735636PMC
January 2016

A simple approach for multicolor immunofluorescence staining in different Drosophila cell types.

J Cell Physiol 2014 Jun;229(6):683-7

Dipartimento di Biologia e Biotecnologie "C. Darwin", SAPIENZA Università di Roma, Roma, Italy.

Multicolor immunostaining analysis is often a desirable tool in cell biology for most researchers. Nonetheless, this is not an easy task and often not affordable by many laboratories as it might require expensive instrumentation and sophisticated analysis software. Here, we describe a simple protocol for performing sequential immunostainings on two different Drosophila specimens. Our strategy relies on an efficient and reproducible method for removal primary antibodies and/or fluorophore-conjugated secondary antibodies that does not affect antigene integrity. We show that alternation of multiple rounds of antibody incubation and removal on the same slide, followed by registration of the same DAPI-stained image, provides a simple framework for the sequential detection of several antigens in the same cell. Given that the sample fixation procedures used for Drosophila tissues are compatible with most specimen processing protocols, we can envisage that the multicolor immunostaining strategy presented here can be also adapted to different samples including mammalian tissues and/or cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jcp.24506DOI Listing
June 2014

Effete, an E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme with multiple roles in Drosophila development and chromatin organization.

Fly (Austin) 2013 Oct-Dec;7(4):256-62. Epub 2013 Oct 2.

Dipartimento di Biologia e Biotecnologie "C. Darwin"; SAPIENZA Università di Roma; Roma, Italy.

The Drosophila effete gene encodes an extremely conserved class I E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme. Growing evidence indicates that Eff is involved in many cellular processes including eye development, maintenance of female germline stem cells, and regulation of apoptosis. Eff is also a major component of Drosophila chromatin and it is particularly enriched in chromatin with repressive properties. In addition, Eff is required for telomere protection and to prevent telomere fusion. Consistent with its multiple roles in chromatin maintenance, Eff is also one of the rare factors that modulate both telomere-induced and heterochromatin-induced position effect variegation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4161/fly.26567DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3896498PMC
May 2015

Effete, a Drosophila chromatin-associated ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme that affects telomeric and heterochromatic position effect variegation.

Genetics 2013 Sep 2;195(1):147-58. Epub 2013 Jul 2.

Dipartimento di Scienze Cliniche Applicate e Biotecnologiche, Università dell'Aquila, 67010 L'Aquila, Italy.

Drosophila telomeres are elongated by the transposition of telomere-specific retrotransposons rather than telomerase activity. Proximal to the terminal transposon array, Drosophila chromosomes contain several kilobases of a complex satellite DNA termed telomere-associated sequences (TASs). Reporter genes inserted into or next to the TAS are silenced through a mechanism called telomere position effect (TPE). TPE is reminiscent of the position effect variegation (PEV) induced by Drosophila constitutive heterochromatin. However, most genes that modulate PEV have no effect on TPE, and systematic searches for TPE modifiers have so far identified only a few dominant suppressors. Surprisingly, only a few of the genes required to prevent telomere fusion have been tested for their effect on TPE. Here, we show that with the exception of the effete (eff; also called UbcD1) mutant alleles, none of the tested mutations at the other telomere fusion genes affects TPE. We also found that mutations in eff, which encodes a class I ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme, act as suppressors of PEV. Thus, eff is one of the rare genes that can modulate both TPE and PEV. Immunolocalization experiments showed that Eff is a major constituent of polytene chromosomes. Eff is enriched at several euchromatic bands and interbands, the TAS regions, and the chromocenter. Our results suggest that Eff associates with different types of chromatin affecting their abilities to regulate gene expression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1534/genetics.113.153320DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3761297PMC
September 2013

The histone deacetylase Rpd3 regulates the heterochromatin structure of Drosophila telomeres.

J Cell Sci 2011 Jun;124(Pt 12):2041-8

Istituto Telethon Dulbecco, c/o STEMBIO, Viale delle Scienze, Edificio 16, 90128 Palermo, Italy.

Telomeres are specialized structures at the end of eukaryotic chromosomes that are required to preserve genome integrity, chromosome stability and nuclear architecture. Telomere maintenance and function are established epigenetically in several eukaryotes. However, the exact chromatin enzymatic modifications regulating telomere homeostasis are poorly understood. In Drosophila melanogaster, telomere length and stability are maintained through the retrotransposition of specialized telomeric sequences and by the specific loading of protecting capping proteins, respectively. Here, we show that the loss of the essential and evolutionarily conserved histone deacetylase Rpd3, the homolog of mammalian HDAC1, causes aberrant telomeric fusions on polytene chromosome ends. Remarkably, these telomere fusion defects are associated with a marked decrease of histone H4 acetylation, as well as an accumulation of heterochromatic epigenetic marks at telomeres, including histone H3K9 trimethylation and the heterochromatic protein HP2. Our work suggests that Drosophila telomere structure is epigenetically regulated by the histone deacetylase Rpd3.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jcs.078261DOI Listing
June 2011