Background and activities

Research group: "DNA base damage and chromatin integrity"


Our research

In both normal and cancer cells numerous lethal and mutagenic DNA lesions are formed upon exposure to endogenous and exogenous damaging agents. The estimated steady-state level of endogenous DNA lesions in mammalian cells is high, about 20’000 lesions per cell per day, majority of which represent DNA base damages. An increase in the amount of DNA base damages has been tightly associated with aging, cancer development, as well as onset of different neurological diseases. To maintain the integrity of genetic information organized within chromatin, cells need to repair the DNA or bypass the damage by engaging specialized DNA polymerases. Aim of our research is to identify different cellular factors that ensure efficient response to DNA damaging agents, in particular the one inducing DNA base damage.

Though many diseases, as neurological disorders and cancer, have been correlated with accumulation of damaged DNA bases, only limited amount of data describe possible mechanisms through which these lesions accumulate and consequently contribute to the onset and progression of pathological conditions. Our research focuses on exploring the importance of DNA repair proteins and specialized DNA polymerases in onset and progression of different diseases in particular developmental disorders. By using multidisciplinary approach combining various experimental techniques, including biochemistry, cell biology, genomics, proteomics, 3D cultures, imaging, shRNA/CRISPR libraries, and computational biology we aim to identify pathomechanisms that contribute to developmental disorders and could potentially serve as basis for evolution of novel therapies.


Group members

Rossana Aprigliano (

Diana Lilian Bordin, PhD (

Stefano Bradamante (

Alessandro Brambilla

Sarah Fordyce Martin, PhD (

Boris Mihaljevic, PhD (

Nicola Montaldo (

Milosz Rolinski (




Onsager Fellow


Outstanding Academic Fellow