06/05/2015 - 12:00 - Auditori PRBB

Since I have been loving protein-RNA interactions

Scientific sessions, CRG Group Leader Seminars

Gian Gaetano Tartaglia

Gene Function & Evolution, Bioinformatics and Genomics Programme, CRG

Short bio:

Gian Gaetano Tartaglia received his MPhil in Theoretical Physics from the University of Rome La Sapienza in 2000 (Italy) with a thesis on mathematical modeling of neurons. He carried out his doctoral studies in Biochemistry at the University of Zurich (Switzerland) where he investigated principles of protein folding, misfolding and aggregation with special emphasis on neurodegenerative diseases. He then moved to the University of Cambridge (UK) as a Clare Hall post-doctoral fellow in the Departments of Chemistry (2005) and Genetics (2008). During this period, Gian worked under the supervision of Chris Dobson and Michele Vendruscolo and employed computational and experimental methods to study cell toxicity caused by formation of amyloid aggregates. Gian joined the Centre for Genomic Regulation as group leader in 2010 and he started to investigate protein interactions with RNA molecules using a series of in silico and in vitro approaches. He is life member of Clare Hall College (UK) since 2011. Gian’s group developed the first theoretical framework to predict protein interactions with RNA molecules and studies the role of non-coding transcripts in neurodegenerative diseases supported by and ERC grant (2013). In September 2014, Gian became an ICREA Professor in Life and Medical Sciences.


RNA-binding proteins regulate a number of cellular processes, including synthesis, folding, translocation, assembly and clearance of RNAs. Recent studies have reported that an unexpectedly large number of proteins are able to interact with RNA, but the partners of many RNA-binding proteins are still uncharacterized.

Using a theoretical approach, we are studying ribonucleoprotein interactions linked to inherited intellectual disability, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Creutzfeuld-Jakob, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s diseases. We previously investigated RNA interactions with fragile X mental retardation protein FMRP, self-regulatory associations between proteins and their own transcripts as well as formation of ribonucleoprotein granules. Our results are in striking agreement with previous experimental evidence and provide new insights that we are currently testing in our wet lab.

We recently found that co-expressed protein and RNA molecules have a high propensity to interact, which allows us to screen ribonucleoprotein networks and select candidates amenable for experimental validation. The integration of in silico and ex vivo data unraveled two major types of protein–RNA interactions, with positively correlated patterns related to cell cycle control and negatively correlated patterns related to survival, growth and differentiation.

More discoveries made on the way will be presented.