Claudia Ghigna
Claudia Ghigna
affiliation: Istituto di Genetica Molecolare-CNR, Pavia
research area(s): Cancer Biology, Developmental Biology
Course: Genetics, Molecular and Cellular Biology
University/Istitution: Università di Pavia
2004-2005 Visiting Scientist, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Massachusetts, Worcester, MA, USA
2001-present Researcher, Institute of Molecular Genetic - Italian National Research Council (IGM-CNR), Pavia
2000 Advanced School of Integrated Studies (SAFI), Institute of Superior Studies, University of Pavia
2000 PhD Genetics and Molecular Biology, University of Pavia
1997 Qualified Professional Biologist, University of Pavia
1995 Degree in Biological Sciences cum laude, University of Pavia

2001 CNR Fellowship
1997 Buzzati-Traverso Fellowship
1996 Buzzati-Traverso Fellowship

Leadership in projects (PI)
• 2019-2023 Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC) project: 21966
• 2016-2018 Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC) project: 17395
• 2014-2015 Fondazione Banca del Monte di Lombardia
• 2011-2014 Worldwide Cancer Research (ex AICR-UK) project: 11–0622
• 2012-2015 Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC) project: 11913
• 2005 Short Mobility Grant CNR
• 2004 Short Mobility Grant CNR

Invited speaker
• Interplay between RNA binding proteins and non coding RNA’s. Fondazione Mondino di Pavia 27-28th June 2019 (Pavia, Italy)
• Meeting SIICA (Italian Society of Immunology, Clinical Immunology and Allergology) 25-27 May 2015. Certosa di Pontignano (Siena, Italy)
• The regulation of the metabolism of nucleic acids as a source of new opportunities for therapeutic intervention, PhD in Genetic and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Pavia (Italy), 12-15 April 2011
• Pre-mRNA maturation from molecular biology to pathology” PhD in Genetic and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Pavia (Italy), 18-25 March 2010;
• Meeting EURASNET (“European Alternative Splicing Network of Excellence”), 1-4 March 2010 Lisbon, Portugal
• International Meeting FISV (Italian Federation of Life Sciences), 23-25 September 2009, Riva del Garda, Italy
• Meeting EURASNET (“European Alternative Splicing Network of Excellence”) “Alternative Splicing”, 21-23 May 2008, Krakow, Poland;
• “Alternative Splicing and Disease Workshop”, 18 – 23 February 2008, University of Montpellier II, France
• “Alternate Transcript Diversity – Biology and Therapeutics” EMBL, 21-23 March, 2006, Heidelberg, Germania;
• 8th Annual Meeting of the RNA Society, 1-6 July 2003, Vienna - Austria;
• “RNA day”, 28 January, 2003, La Sapienza University, Rome.

Ad hoc reviewer
Science, Nature Communications, Molecular Cancer, Cancers, Scientific Reports, Human Molecular Genetics, PLOS ONE, Aging, BMC Cancer, Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research, Frontiers in Genetics, Aging-us, Future Oncology, Apoptosis, BioMed Research International, FEBS letter, Human Cell, Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, Oncotarget, Molecular Medicine, DNA and Cell Biology, Journal of Molecular Medicine, World Journal of Gastroenterology, Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine, Gene, Clinical and Experimental metastasis, International Journal of Cancer, Neurological Sciences, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA).

Consultant for the evaluation of National and International Grants
University of Rome Tor Vergata (Beyond Borders) Italy, FIRB Giovani 2013 (Italian Ministry of University and Research); AIDS Grant Programme (Italian Ministry of Health); Bandi SIR (Italian Ministry of University and Research), The Wellcome Trust/DBT-India Alliance; The Wellcome Trust, London-UK; "Rita Levi Montalcini Program" (Italian Ministry University and Research); North West Cancer Research Grant Application-UK; ICGEB (International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology) Research Grants (Trieste Italy); French National Research Agency (ANR); ANVUR (Italian National Agency for the Evaluation of the University System and Research).

Dr Ghigna is included in the register of independent Italian and foreign scientific experts (Italian Ministry of University and Research,

• 2019. Special Issue: “Alternative Splicing: Recent Insights into Mechanisms and Functional Role” in Cells”; ISSN 2073-4409
• 2015. Special Issue: “Posttranscriptional Regulation and RNA Binding Proteins in Cancer Biology”. BioMed Research International.
• 2013. Special Issue: “Alternative splicing: role in cancer development and progression” in International Journal of Cell Biology

Editorial Board
• Frontiers in Genetics (RNA section)

Best young researcher, Italian National Research Council (CNR), 2009
Dr Ghigna has an extensive experience in the study of the relationship between alternative splicing (AS) and cancer, with a particular emphasis on comprehending how alterations in the abundance or activity of AS regulators, which occur frequently in tumors, may influence the AS profile of cancer-associated genes and directly contribute to tumor progression and resistance to therapeutic treatments.
In the past, Dr Ghigna made a seminal contribution to the understanding of the process of tumorigenesis demonstrating a role, until then underestimated, of AS regulation during tumor progression. These studies demonstrated, for the first time, a direct link between AS and cell motility, an activity important for embryogenesis, tissue formation and tumor metastasis (Ghigna C et al Molecular Cell 2005).
As independent investigator, the laboratory of Dr Ghigna gained fundamental knowledge concerning the AS control of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, a major mechanism by which cancer cells acquire migratory and invasive capabilities becoming metastatic. In parallel, Dr Ghigna investigated the use of cancer-specific AS variants as a potential target for the development of new anti-metastatic therapeutic strategies.
Currently, the laboratory of Dr Ghigna is investigating the biological relevance of AS for the control of angiogenesis, a hallmark of cancer. Using a combination of expression profiling and in vivo studies, for first time she found that the AS factor Nova2 (originally implicated in neurogenesis) is also expressed in the endothelial cells (ECs) of the blood vessels and it is required for correct vascular development (Giampietro C et al Nature Communications 2015). More recently, she found that Nova2 is overexpressed in cancer vasculature and she characterized the functional role of several novel isoforms generated through Nova2-mediated AS regulation in ECs (Angiolini F et al eLife 2019).

Our main interest is to characterize in more detail the role of Nova2 in mammalian vasculature physiology and in tumor angiogenesis. We think that our study will provide a new perspective to understand the aberrant phenotype of tumor vessels and to identify novel pathways relevant to cancer progression.
1 Biamonti G, et al, Pradella D, Ghigna C. Alternative splicing in Alzheimer's disease. Aging Clin Exp Res. 2019
2 Angiolini F, Belloni E, Giordano M, et al, Dejana E, Cavallaro U, Ghigna C. A novel L1CAM isoform with angiogenic activity generated by NOVA2-mediated alternative splicing. Elife. 2019, 8: pii: e44305
3 Nakka K, Ghigna C, Gabellini D, Dilworth FJ. Diversification of the muscle proteome through alternative splicing. Skelet Muscle. 2018; 8:8
4 Pradella D, Naro C, Sette C, Ghigna G. EMT and stemness: flexible processes tuned by alternative splicing in development and cancer progression. Mol Cancer. 2017, 16:8
5 Giampietro C et al, Di Fiore PP, Blencowe BJ, Dejana E, Ghigna C. The alternative splicing factor Nova2 regulates vascular development and lumen formation. Nat Commun. 2015; 6:8479
6 Ghigna C*, Cartegni L, Jordan P, Paronetto MP. Posttranscriptional Regulation and RNA Binding Proteins in Cancer Biology. Biomed Res Int. 2015; 2015:897821
7 Frisone P, Pradella D, Di Matteo A, Belloni E, Ghigna C*, Paronetto MP. SAM68: signal transduction and RNA metabolism in human cancer. Biomed Res Int. 2015; 2015:528954
8 Loh TJ, et al, Ghigna C, Biamonti G, Zheng X, Shen H. hnRNP L inhibits CD44 V10 exon splicing through interacting with its upstream intron. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2015; 1849:743
9 Moon H, Cho S, et al, Eom S, Ghigna C, Biamonti G, Green MR, Zheng X, Shen H. SRSF2 promotes splicing and transcription of exon 11 included isoform in Ron proto-oncogene. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014; 1839:1132
10 Biamonti G, Catillo M, Pignataro D, Montecucco A, Ghigna C. The alternative splicing side of cancer. Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2014; 32:30
11 Sette C, Ladomery M, Ghigna C. Alternative splicing: role in cancer development and progression. Int J Cell Biol. 2013; 2013:421606
12 Bonomi S, Gallo S, Catillo M, Pignataro D, Biamonti G, Ghigna C. Oncogenic alternative splicing switches: role in cancer progression and prospects for therapy. Int J Cell Biol. 2013; 2013:962038
13 Ghigna C, Riva S, Biamonti G. Alternative splicing of tumor suppressors and oncogenes. Cancer Treat Res. 2013; 158:95
14.Moon H, Cho S, Loh TJ, Zhou J, Ghigna C, Biamonti G, Green MR, Zheng X, Shen H. A 2-nt RNA enhancer on exon 11 promotes exon 11 inclusion of the Ron proto-oncogene. Oncol Rep. 2014; 31:450
15 Siegfried Z, Bonomi S, Ghigna C, Karni R. Regulation of the Ras-MAPK and PI3K-mTOR Signalling Pathways by Alternative Splicing in Cancer. Int J Cell Biol. 2013; 2013:568931
16 Bonomi S, di Matteo A, Buratti E, Cabianca DS, Baralle FE, Ghigna C*, Biamonti G. HnRNP A1 controls a splicing regulatory circuit promoting mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition. Nucleic Acids Res. 2013; 41:8665
17 Biamonti G, Bonomi S, Gallo S, Ghigna C. Making alternative splicing decisions during epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Cell Mol Life Sci. 2012; 69:2515
18 Valacca C, Bonomi S, Buratti E, Pedrotti S, Baralle FE, Sette C, Ghigna C**, Biamonti G**. Sam68 regulates EMT through alternative splicing-activated nonsense-mediated mRNA decay of the SF2/ASF proto-oncogene. J Cell Biol. 2010; 191:87
19 Ghigna C*, De Toledo M, et al, Eperon I, Tazi J, Biamonti G. Pro-metastatic splicing of Ron proto-oncogene mRNA can be reversed: therapeutic potential of bifunctional oligonucleotides and indole derivatives. RNA Biol. 2010; 7:495
20 Pistoni M, Ghigna C, Gabellini D. Alternative splicing and muscular dystrophy. RNA Biol. 2010; 7:441
21 Ghigna C*, Valacca C, Biamonti G. Alternative splicing and tumor progression. Current Genomics 2008; 9:556
22 Valgardsdottir R, et al, Ghigna C, Riva S, Biamonti G. Transcription of SatelliteIII non-coding RNAs is a general stress response in human cells. Nucleic Acids Res. 2008; 36:423
23 Ghigna C, Giordano S, Shen H, Benvenuto F, Castiglioni F, Comoglio PM, Green MR, Riva S, Biamonti G. Cell motility is controlled by SF2/ASF through alternative splicing of the Ron protooncogene. Molecular Cell 2005; 20:881
24 Chiodi I, et al, Ghigna C, Cobianchi F, Xu RM, Riva S, Biamonti G. RNA recognition motif 2 directs the recruitment of SF2/ASF to nuclear stress bodies. Nucleic Acids Res. 32:4127
25 Shen H, Kan JL, Ghigna C, Biamonti G, Green MR. A single polypyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB) binding site mediates splicing inhibition at mouse IgM exons M1 and M2. RNA 2004; 10:787
26 Ghigna C, Moroni M, Porta C, Riva S, Biamonti G. Altered expression of heterogenous nuclear ribonucleoproteins and SR factors in human colon adenocarcinomas. Cancer Res. 1998; 58:5818
27 Biamonti G, Ghigna C, Caporali R, Montecucco C. Heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins (hnRNPs): an emerging family of autoantigens in rheumatic diseases Clin Exp Rheumatol. 1998; 16:317
28 Camacho-Vanegas O, Weighardt F, Ghigna C, Amaldi F, Riva S, Biamonti G. Growth-dependent and growth-independent translation of messengers for heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins. Nucleic Acids Res. 1997; 25:3950

*Corresponding author
**Co-last author and corresponding author
Project Title:
Role of the alternative splicing factor Nova2 during vascular development and tumor angiogensis