Giuseppe Testa
Giuseppe Testa
affiliation: IEO - Istituto Europeo di Oncologia
research area(s): Stem Cells And Regenerative Medicine, Cancer Biology
  • Foundations of Life Sciences and Their Ethical Consequences
  • Molecular Medicine: Molecular Oncology and Computational Biology
University/Istitution: Università di Milano, UNIMI-SEMM
Current position:
Principal investigator
Director, Laboratory of Stem Cell Epigenetics
European Institute of Oncology and European School of Molecular Medicine
Milan, Italy

Previous positions
Visiting fellow, Berlin Institute of Advanced Studies, Berlin (Germany)
Visiting fellow, Program on Science Technology and Society at the Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University
2001-2005: Postdoctoral fellow, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology, Dresden
1997-2001: PhD student, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg

Academic titles
1996: M.D., University of Perugia Medical School, with honors (110/110 e lode)
1997: Medical Licensing Examination
2001: PhD, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg (Germany)
2007: MA in Health Care Ethics and Law, University of Manchester (with distinction)
Histone methylation in stem cell renewal and lineage commitment

The focus of the lab is on the epigenetic mechanisms that enable lineage commitment and their aberrations in cancer.
In his classic representation of the epigenetic landscape, Conrad Waddington depicted development as the progressive channeling of pluripotency (the marble at the top of the hill) down irreversible paths of cell specification (the slopes and canyons available to the marble in its downward rolling). A current version of that same landscape brings to the fore the fate choices of embryonic and tissue-specific stem cells as key transitions for the regulation of self-renewal and differentiation that forms and maintains organisms. In order to understand these transitions we need to uncover how genomic programs are progressively deployed and what are the chromatin regulatory mechanisms that coordinate their deployment.
Among these, we have started to learn in the last decade that the methylation of histone H3 on lysine tails 4 and 27, respectively mediated by the Trithorax (Trx) and Polycomb (PcG) protein families, is central to the programming of genomes that underlies the establishment and maintenance of differentiated cell states. Not surprisingly, aberrations in these pathways have also emerged as important determinants or modulators of tumors, hinting at common regulatory circuits that preside over stem cell physiology and that are perturbed or hijacked in oncogenesis. Finally, changes in these posttranslational modifications are also prominent in the epigenetic rewiring that recently reversed Waddington’s unidirectional slopes, namely the reacquisition of pluripotency from differentiated cells through nuclear transfer or the expression of few pluripotency factors.
Hence, work in my lab is articulated in three complementary lines of research that investigate PcG and Trx function in: i) the physiology of genome programming during differentiation; ii) the aberrant genome programming that accompanies tumorigenesis; and iii) the controlled genome reprogramming that mediates induced pluripotency.

1)C.E. Pasi, A. Dereli-Oz, S. Negrini, M. Friedli, G. Fragola, A. Lombardo, G. Van Houwe,
L. Naldini, S. Casola, G. Testa, D. Trono, P.G. Pelicci, and T.D. Halazonetis
Genomic instability in induced stem cells
Cell Death and Differentiation, 2011; 18(5):745-53
2)G. Testa
Stem Cell Teathrics
Nature 2010, 465: 1012
3)G. Testa
What to do with the Grail now that we have it? iPSCs, potentiality, and public policy.
Cell Stem Cell, 2009 Oct 2;5(4):358-9
4)F. De Santa, N. Vipin, Z. H.Yap; B. K.Tusi, T. Burgold, L. Austenaa, G.Bucci, M.Caganova, S. Notarbartolo, S. Casola, G. Testa, W. Sung, C. Wei and G. Natoli
Jmjd3 contributes to the control of gene expression in LPS-activated macrophages
The EMBO Journal, '2009; 28(21):3341-52'
5)G. Natoli*, G. Testa* and F. De Santa
The future therapeutic potential of histone demethylases: a critical analysis
Current Opinion in Drug Discovery and Development 2009; 12(5):607-15 *corresponding authors
6)L. Skene, G. Testa, I. Hyun, K. W. Jung, A. McNab, J. Robertson, C. T. Scott, J. H. Solbakk, P. Taylor, L. Zoloth
Ethics Report on Interspecies Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer Research
Cell Stem Cell, 2009; 5(1): 27-30
7)T. Burgold, F. Spreafico, F. De Santa, M. Totaro, E. Prosperini, G. Natoli and G. Testa
The histone H3 lysine 27-specific demethylase Jmjd3 is required for neural commitment
PloS One 2008 3(8): e3034 [pdf]
8)J.A. Adjaye, A.G. Byskov, J.B. Cibelli, R. De Maria, S. Minger, M. Sampaolesi, G. Testa, C. Verfaillie, M. Zernicka-Goetz, H. Schöler, M. Boiani, N. Crosetto, C.A. Redi
Pluripotency and differentiation in embryos and stem cells
Int J Dev Biol 2008 52(7):801-9 equal contribution
9)G. Testa
Stem cells through stem beliefs: the co-production of biotechnological pluralism
Science as Culture 2008 17(4): 435-448
10)F. De Santa, M. Totaro, E. Prosperini, S. Notarbartolo, G. Testa, and G. Natoli
The histone H3 lysine-27 demethylase Jmjd3 links inflammation to inhibition of polycomb-mediated gene silencing
Cell 2007 130(6):1083-94.
11)I. Hyun*, P. Taylor*, G. Testa*, B. Dickens, K. W. Jung, A. McNab, J. Robertson, L. Skene and L. Zoloth
Ethical Standards for Human-to-Animal Chimera Experiments in Stem Cell Research
Cell Stem Cell 2007 1(2):159-163 *equal contribution
12)G. Testa, L. Borghese, J. Steinbeck, and O. Brüstle
Breakdown of the Potentiality Principle and Its Impact on Global Stem Cell Research
Cell Stem Cell 2007 1(2):153-156
13)J. Scholten, K. Hartmann, A. Gerbaulet, T. Krieg, W. Müller, G. Testa, and A. Roers
Mast cell-specific Cre/loxP-mediated recombination in vivo Transgenic Res.
Epub 2007 Oct 31 (2008 (2):307-15)
14)G. Testa
Nuclear Transfer: an Example of Responsive Epistemologies
Preprint 310 of the Proceedings of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science 2006 pp. 205-214
15)G. Testa and J. Harris
Ethics and synthetic gametes
Bioethics, 2005; 19: 146-166
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