International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) Italy

Leader: Stefano Gustincich

Brief description of the organization:

SISSA is a leading centre for higher learning and research in Italy. It graduates and post-graduates young scientists in Neuroscience, Biology Physics and Mathematics. The SISSA Laboratory of the Center for Genetics of Regeneration ANd Degeneration (GRAND) deals with functional genomics techniques applied to the study of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's and prion diseases.

Main tasks attributed to the project:
Laser Capture Microdissection of GFP-positive neurons from a TH-GFP mouse transgenic line and of TH-positive cells from human midbrains. Global-PCR amplification from small quantities of RNAs of dopaminergic neurons from 4 organisms. Double in situ hybridization-immunohystochemistry staining of interesting genes in mouse midbrains.

Previous experience relevant to the tasks:
In the laboratory of Prof. Gustincich techniques to amplify RNAs from a small number of cells and cDNA microarray technology are used to obtain large gene expression data from specific neuronal populations. Cells are identified by the expression of a reporter gene in transgenic mice or by immunocytochemistry and purified by Laser Caputure Microdissection.
A major effort is focused on the description of the organization of the mesencephalic dopaminergic (DA) cell system. Under an agreement between SISSA and CBM, a service for analysis of gene expression is provided using the Affymetrix platform.
Stefano Gustincich obtained his PhD at SISSA, working with Prof. Claudio Schneider on molecular cloning of genes involved in the negative control of cell proliferation. He was awarded a Long-term EMBO fellowship to work as a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory directed by Prof. Elio Raviola at the department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, Boston. He developed a transgenic model to study the function of dopaminergic neurons of the retina. While at Harvard, he also developed techniques to study gene expression at single cell level, identifying genes expressed in single dopaminergic neurons. He has been awarded the Harvard-Armenise career development award to join the sector of Neurobiology at SISSA as a principal investigator.

Selected publications of relevance to the project:

  • Gustincich S, Sandelin A, Plessy C, Katayama S, Simone R, Lazarevic D, Hayashizaki Y, Carninci P. (2006) The complexity of the mammalian transcriptome. J Physiol. 575:319-20.(I.F. 4.327) .
  • Carninci P et al., (2006) Promoting mammalian transcription. Nature Genetics 38:626-35. (I.F. 24.695).
  • FANTOM3 Consortium (2005) The transcriptional landscape of the mammalian genome. Science 309:1559-63. (I.F. 31.853).
  • Gustincich S, Contini M, Gariboldi M, Puopolo M, Kadota M, Bono H, LeMieux J, Walsh P, Carninci P, Hayashizaki Y, Okazaki Y and Raviola R (2004) Gene discovery in genetically labeled single retinal dopaminergic neurons. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101, 5059-5074. (I.F. 10.452) .
  • Okazaki Y, et al. (2002) Analysis of the mouse transcriptome based on functional annotation of 60,770 full-length cDNAs. Nature 420, 563-573. (I.F. 32.182)