Glycobiology and Glycopathology Laboratory

Study of the glycosyltransferases responsible for the biosynthesis of the sugar portions of glycoproteins and glycolipids and of the role that the alterations of these structures play in pathological processes, including cancer and congenital diseases of glycosylation.

Research field

General Pathology

In this lab, the mechanisms of glycosylation of proteins and the alterations they undergo in pathological processes (neoplasms in particular)  are studied. In tumors, variations in the level of expression of glycosyltransferases, the enzymes that synthesize carbohydrate chains, are often observed. These alterations lead to the expression of altered sugar chains which, in addition to being important diagnostic and prognostic markers, fuel tumor progression by exacerbating the neoplastic phenotype. The research group genetically modifies tumor cell lines to alter the expression of glycosyltransferases related to tumor progression. The effect of the modification on the neoplastic phenotype and on the global gene expression profile is studied. The aim of the research is to identify the alterations in glycosylation which are of particular clinical importance in order to understand the mechanisms that lead these alterations to modify the tumor phenotype. The studies are focused in particular on glycosyltransferases involved in the biosynthesis of the terminal portions of the carbohydrate chains in colon cancer, including ST6GAL1, B4GALNT2, and FUT6.

A second line of research, conducted in close collaboration with researchers from the University of Insubria in Varese and the University of Milan, focuses on the characterization of congenital diseases of glycosylation (CDGs). These autosomal recessive pediatric diseases are caused by mutations in glycosyltransferase genes. The lab contributes to the in vitro characterization of the enzymatic properties of mutant glycosyltransferases.

Teaching:

Master's degree thesis, mainly in Health Biology. PhD thesis in Hematology, Oncology, and Pathology.

 

Equipment:

  • Cells and power supplies for electrophoresis;
  • thermostatic baths;
  • thermal cyclers;
  • analytical balances;
  • fraction collectors;
  • table mini-centrifuges;
  • spectrophotometer;
  • magnetic stirrers, vortexes.

Principal investigator

Team

Nadia Malagolini

D cat. - technical, scientific and data processing area

Laboratory location

General Pathology Building

Room 15, first floor