Elena Giulotto
Elena Giulotto
affiliation: Università di Pavia
research area(s): Genetics And Genomics, Molecular Biology
Course: Genetics, Molecular and Cellular Biology
University/Istitution: Università di Pavia
Elena Giulotto obtained a degree in Biology cum laude at the University of Pavia and was postgraduate student in Genetics in the same University.
She was postdoctoral fellow for three years in the Biochemistry Department, Stanford University, Stanford, USA and for an additional three year period at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London, UK.
She is now Full Professor in Molecular Biology at the University of Pavia, Faculty of Sciences and is the coordinator of the Master Course in English “Molecular Biology and Genetics”.
Elena Giulotto is head of the Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory, Department of Biology and Biotechnology. The laboratory is funded by grants from European Community, Ministry of Education, Fondazione Cariplo and Regione Lombardia.
The research activity is focused on the cellular and molecular biology of mammalian cells, addressing particularly the mechanisms of chromosomal instability and their role in carcinogenesis and evolution..
Elena Giulotto is member of the editorial board of the journal "Genome Integrity". She has been invited speaker at several national and international meetings. She is member of the referees' committee of national and international research projects and of the review committee of several international journals.
Genome instability in carcinogenesis and evolution: telomeres, centromeres and mobile elements

The research projects concern the molecular mechanisms involved in the maintenance of mammalian genome integrity, which play a crucial role both in carcinogenesis and in evolution. To this purpose bio-molecular, cytogenetic and bio-informatic methods are used.
Chromosome ends, the so called telomeres, are essential for genome stability. Telomere misfunction causes chromosome rearrangements and can lead to cancer in somatic cells, while it may represent an evolutionary force when occurring in the germ line. The purpose of our research is to identify factors involved in telomere metabolism with particular emphasis on the non-coding RNA molecules transcribed by telomeres.
Besides telomeres, the functional elements required to maintain chromosome integrity are the centromeres which drive chromosome separation during cell division. The repositioning of centromeres is an important mechanism of genome evolution; morevoer, alterations in chromosome segregation contribute to carcinogenesis and tumour progression. Centromeric DNA is characterised by the presence of tandem repeats of short sequences named satellite DNA. We have discovered that, in the genus Equus (horses, asses and zebras), several centromeres are devoid of satellite DNA because they are evolutionarily recent. The simple sequence organization of these centromeres makes them an ideal model system for the analysis of centromere function at the molecular level.
Several DNA sequences sharing the ability to be inserted into genomes can cause genome rearrangements. Using a comparative genomic approach we study the mechanisms of insertion of some of these sequences: interstitial telomeres, DNA sequences of mitochondrial origin and transposable elements. These insertion elements are also used as markers for the construction of evolutionary trees and for the analysis of genetic variability.
Finally, taking advantage of our knowledge on gene amplification and in collaboration with biotec companies, we construct cell lines over-expressing pharmaceutically relevant proteins.
Vidale P, Magnani E, Nergadze SG, Santagostino M, Cristofari G, Smirnova A, Mondello C, Giulotto E. (2012) The catalytic and the RNA subunits of human telomerase are required to immortalize equid primary fibroblasts. Chromosoma, Epub ahead of print

Mondello C, Smirnova A, Giulotto E. (2010) Gene amplification, radiation sensitivity and DNA double-strand breaks. Mutation Research. Reviews in Mutation Research, 704: 29-37

Nergadze SG, Lupotto M, Pellanda P, Santagostino M, Vitelli V, Giulotto E. (2010) Mitochondrial DNA insertions in the nuclear horse genome. Animal Genetics, 41: 176-185

Piras FM, Nergadze SG, Magnani E, Bertoni L, Attolini C, Khoriauli L, Raimondi E, Giulotto E. (2010) Uncoupling of satellite DNA and centromeric function in the genus Equus. PLOS Genetics, 6: e1000845

Nergadze SG, Farnung BO, Wischnewski H, Khoriauli L, Vitelli V, Chawla R, Giulotto E, Azzalin CM. (2009) CpG-island promoters drive transcription of human telomeres. RNA, 15: 2186-2194

Salzano A, Kochiashvili N, Nergadze SG, Khoriauli L, Smirnova A, Ruiz-Herrera A, Mondello C, Giulotto E. (2009) Enhanced gene amplification in human cells knocked down for DNA-PKcs. DNA Repair, 8: 19-28

Wade CM, Giulotto E, Sigurdsson S, Zoli M, Gnerre S, Imsland F, Lear TL, Adelson DL, Bailey E, Bellone RR, Blöcker H, Distl O, Edgar RC, Garber M, Leeb T, Mauceli E, Macleod JN, Penedo MC, Raison JM, Sharpe T, Vogel J, Andersson L, Antczak DF, Biagi T, Binns MM, Chowdhary BP, Coleman SJ, Della Valle G, Fryc S, Guérin G, Hasegawa T, Hill EW, Jurka J, Kiialainen A, Lindgren G, Liu J, Magnani E, Mickelson JR, Murray J, Nergadze SG, Onofrio R, Pedroni S, Piras MF, Raudsepp T, Rocchi M, Røed KH, Ryder OA, Searle S, Skow L, Swinburne JE, Syvänen AC, Tozaki T, Valberg SJ, Vaudin M, White JR, Zody MC. (2009) Genome sequence, comparative analysis and population genetics of the domestic horse (Equus caballus). Science, 326: 865-867

Azzalin CM, Reichenbach P, Khoriauli L, Giulotto E, Lingner J. (2007) Telomeric repeat containing RNA and RNA surveillance factors at mammalian chromosome ends. Science, 318: 789-801

Nergadze SG, Santagostino M, Salzano A, Mondello C, Giulotto E. (2007) Contribution of telomerase RNA retrotranscription to DNA double-strand break repair during mammalian genome evolution. Genome Biology, 8: R260
Project Title:
Functional and evolutionary analysis of the centromere in normal and in cancer cells

Project Title:
Telomeres and genomic instability