EMI
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PhD Student SZN-OU
Section BEOM
Tel. +39 081 5833266
Fax: +39 081 7641355
e-mail attilio.vassalli(at)szn.it


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Research interests

vassalli quirino attilioSome progresses have been made in deciphering the regulatory networks involved in eye specification. Nevertheless, the whole scenario of this complex process is far from fully delineated. Various studies have revealed an important role for the Rx and Onecut genes in photoreceptors and eye specification but almost nothing is known about the gene regulatory network in which they are involved. My PhD project is focused on the characterization of the gene regulatory network that is deployed downstream of Onecut signaling during photoreceptor cells specification in chordate embryos by using the ascidian, Ciona intestinalis and zebrafish Danio rerio, as model systems. To demonstrate the involvement of Onecut in Ciona photoreceptor cells development, I have employed a targeted manipulation of Onecut function, by transgenesis experiments. In parallel, to characterize in zebrafish embryos the Onecut genetic pathway and its functional role in photoreceptors development; I have analysed the expression profile of the three zebrafish Onecut genes and studied the Onecut knockdown phenotypes after microinjection of morpholino oligonucleotides. Finally, I performed a comparison between these two chordate species in order to understand the evolutionary mechanisms that led to the formation of the complex vertebrate eye structures.

Journal Papers

Vassalli QA, Anishchenko E, Caputi L, Sordino P, D'Aniello S, Locascio A. Regulatory elements retained during chordate evolution: Coming across tunicates. Genesis. 2014 Nov 12. doi: 10.1002/dvg.22838

Vassalli QA, Caccavale F, Avagnano S, Murolo A, Guerriero G, Fucci L, Ausió J, Piscopo M. New insights into protamine-like component organization in Mytilus galloprovincialis' sperm chromatin. DNA Cell Biol. 2015 Mar;34 (3):162-9. doi: 10.1089/dna.2014.2631. Epub 2014 Dec 10.

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