Giulia Maglieri – University of Copenhagen

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Giulia Maglieri (ESR5)

Nationality: Italian

Main Host Institution: Biotech Research & Innovation Centre, University of Copenhagen

Academic Background: Master’s degree in Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnologies

Project title:
 Identification and characterization of long non-coding RNAs in oncogene-induced senescence and cancer.

Project background: According to the central dogma of molecular biology, RNA is the carrier of genetic information from DNA to proteins and proteins are responsible for cellular functions. However, the sequencing of the human genome revealed that there are only approximately 20.000 genes encoding for proteins, which corresponds to only the 2% of the total genomic sequence.

New technologies have evidenced that more than the 90% of human genome is transcribed into multiple classes of RNAs with no potential to encode for proteins and so called “non-coding RNA” (ncRNA). This complex network of ncRNAs includes the recently discovered long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), transcripts longer than 200 nucleotides that have been shown to be critical components of important cellular processes such as development, proliferation, differentiation and associated with human diseases including cancer, neurological disorders, immune dysfunctions, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

LncRNA remain a vast and relatively unexplored area, so this new class of molecules holds both the potential to explain many fundamental biological phenomena and the possibility to develop novel therapeutic targets and diagnostic markers.

Oncogene-induced senescence (OIS) is a state of irreversible growth arrest induced by aberrant proliferation due to activation of oncogenes. OIS acts as a barrier against cancer by arresting the growth of cells at risk for malignant transformation and potential roles for lncRNAs in OIS have started to emerge. Our hypothesis is that lncRNAs deregulated in OIS could be involved in cell cycle regulation and so be important in preventing cancer development.

Project Aim: The overall aim of this project is to identify long non-coding RNAs playing a functional role in oncogene-induced senescence and the mechanism by which they exert their function.