• Istituto di Biologia e Patologia Molecolari

Tel :+39 06 49917536
Fax :+39 096 4457528
Research Director

Istitute of Molecular Biology and Pathology - National Research Council

Via degli Apuli 4, 2nd floor
The research focus in our lab is on regulatory networks that control mitosis in human cells. Dysfunction in these networks can favour the onset of genomic instability in daughter cells, an established cancer hallmark.  
A major interest in the lab is placed on signaling mechanisms orchestrated by the GTPase RAN, its regulators and effectors (the RAN network) during mitosis. 
  • The RAN network regulates the activity of a number of key factors in space and time.  Our overall goal is to understand how unbalance or dysfunction in the RAN network, such as found in many cancer types, affect the mitotic apparatus organization or function, and hence chromosome segregation to daughter cells.

Related research interests include:
  • Investigating the functional role of protein SUMOylation, a post-translational modification of growing importance, during mitosis.   
  • Developing live cell imaging methods to gain dynamic information on complex processes and on the heterogeneity of cellular responses to genetically engineered or drug-induced conditions that interfere with normal mitotic progression. 

To approach these questions we employ a variety of molecular and cellular methods. Our lab is part of the CNR National Flagship Project InterOmics, gathering over 20 research groups to develop an integrated platform of advanced "omics" methods for applications in precision medicine.  
The lab also hosts the Nikon microscopy reference center for Central and Southern Italy for high-resolution and live cell imaging (see http://bbcd.bio.uniroma1.it/bbcd/archivionotizie/cnr-microscopy-platform-nikon-reference-center-ibpm)

Reverse transcriptase inhibitors promote the remodelling of nuclear architecture and induce autophagy in prostate cancer cells.

Bellisai C, Sciamanna I, Rovella P, Giovannini D, Baranzini M, Pugliese GM, Zeya Ansari MS, Milite C, Sinibaldi-Vallebona P, Cirilli R, Sbardella G, Pichierri P, Trisciuoglio D, Lavia P, Serafino A, Spadafora C.  Cancer Lett. 2020; 478:133-145. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2020.02.029.  


The Mitotic Apparatus and Kinetochores in Microcephaly and Neurodevelopmental Diseases.

Degrassi F, Damizia M, Lavia P.  Cells. 2019;9:49. doi: 10.3390/cells9010049.

Importin-beta/karyopherin-beta1 modulates mitotic microtubule function and taxane sensitivity in cancer cells via its nucleoporin-binding region.

Verrico A, Rovella P, Di Francesco L, Damizia M, Staid DS, Le Pera L, Schininà ME, Lavia P. Oncogene. 2020;39:454-68. doi: 10.1038/s41388-019-0989-x.  

Visualization of human karyopherin beta-1/importin beta-1 interactions with protein partners in mitotic cells by co-immunoprecipitation and proximity ligation assays

Di Francesco L, Verrico A, Asteriti IA, Rovella P, Cirigliano P, Guarguaglini  G, Schininà ME, and Lavia P. (2018) Sci Rep. 8:1850.  


The small molecule SI113 synergizes with mitotic spindle poisons in arresting the growth of

human glioblastoma multiforme.

Abbruzzese C, Catalogna G, Gallo E, di Martino S, Mileo AM, Carosi M, Dattilo  V, Schenone S, Musumeci F, Lavia P, Perrotti N, Amato R, Paggi MG.  (2017) Oncotarget 8:110743-55.  


Importin-β and CRM1 control a RANBP2 spatiotemporal switch essential for

mitotic kinetochore function.

Gilistro E, de Turris V, Damizia M, Verrico A, Moroni S, De Santis R, Rosa A, and Lavia P. (2017) J Cell Sci. 130:2564-2578


Mitotic cell death induction by targeting the mitotic spindle with tubulin-inhibitory indole

derivative molecules.

Di Cesare E, Verrico A, Miele A, Giubettini M, Rovella P, Coluccia A, Famiglini V, La Regina G, Cundari E, Silvestri R, Lavia P. (2017) Oncotarget  8:19738-59.


Targeting nuclear transporters in cancer: Diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic potential

Stelma T, Chi A, van der Watt PJ, Verrico A, Lavia P, Leaner VD  (2016). IUBMB Life.68:268-80. 


The GTPase RAN regulates multiple steps of the centrosome life cycle.

Lavia P. (2016) Chromosome Res. 24:53-65.


New indole tubulin assembly inhibitors cause stable arrest of mitotic progression, enhanced

stimulation of natural killer cell cytotoxic activity, and repression of Hedgehog-dependent cancer.

La Regina G, Bai R, Coluccia A, Famiglini V, Pelliccia S, Passacantilli S, Mazzoccoli C, Ruggieri V, Verrico A, Miele A, Monti L, Nalli M, Alfonsi R, Di Marcotullio L, Gulino A, Ricci B, Soriani A, Santoni A, Caraglia M, Porto S, Da Pozzo E, Martini C, Brancale A, Marinelli L, Novellino E, Vultaggio S, Varasi M,  Mercurio C, Bigogno C, Dondio G, Hamel E, Lavia P, Silvestri R. (2015)

 J Med Chem. 58:5789-807.


Sgk1 enhances RANBP1 transcript levels and decreases taxol sensitivity in RKO colon carcinoma cells.

Amato R, Scumaci D, D'Antona L, Iuliano R, Menniti M, Di Sanzo M, Faniello MC, Colao E, Malatesta P, Zingone A, Agosti V, Costanzo FS, Mileo AM, Paggi MG, Lang  F, Cuda G, Lavia P, Perrotti N. (2013)  Oncogene 32:4572-8.  


Importin-ß negatively regulates multiple aspects of mitosis including RANGAP1 recruitment to kinetochores.  

Roscioli E, Di Francesco L, Bolognesi A, Giubettini M, Orlando S, Harel A, Schininà ME and Lavia P. (2012) J Cell Biol 196:435-50.





Ludovica Altieri
Mohammad Salik Zeya Ansari
Mirko Baranzini
Michela Damizia
Paola Rovella

External collaborations 

• Maria Eugenia Schininà, Laboratory of Functional Proteomics, Dept. of Biochemical Sciences, Sapienza University, Rome 
• Patrizio Dimitri, Dept. of Biology and Biotechnology, Sapienza University, Rome
• Giuseppe Giannini, Dept. of Molecular Medicine, Sapienza University, Rome
• Romano Silvestri, Center  of Drug Synthesis and Design, Sapienza University, Rome
• Marco Paggi, Regina Elena N tional Cancer Institute, IRCCS, Roma
• Nicola Perotti, Magna Grecia University, Catanzaro
• Valeria de Turris, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologie @Sapienza, Roma 
• Pietro Cirigliano, Nikon Instruments S.p.A
• Virna Leaner, Transcriptional regulation and cancer biology group,  IDM, University of Cape Town (South Africa)

Current positions 

• 2017-present: Acting Director, IBPM CNR 
• 2013-present: Teaching position at University ‘La Sapienza', Course "Cell Cycle", MSc Programme in Genetics and Molecular Biology (Laurea Magistrale).
• 2009-present: Co-director, Nikon microscopy reference Center for Central-Southern Italy @CNR IBPM
• 2006-present: Research Director (Dirigente di ricerca), IBPM-CNR, Rome
• 2004-present: Teaching board member (Collegio dei docenti), PhD School in Genetics and Molecular Biology,  University ‘La Sapienza', Rome

Previous positions and research career

• 2001- 06: Senior Research Scientist (Primo Ricercatore), IBPM CNR, Rome
• 2003-06: Italian Society of Biophysics and Molecular Biology (SIBBM), Governing board
• 1991-2000: PI of the IBPM Cell Cycle Laboratory at the newly established San Lorenzo compound  of University La Sapienza , with grants from AIRC, Ministry of University and Research (MIUR), European Union (FP4, FP6) and others.
• 1990 -91: EU Senior Fellow and Academic position, Centre for Genome Research, University of Edinburgh, UK, in the framework of the EU ‘BRIDGE' Programme for the Development of Biotechnology 
• 1987-90: New Unit start-up, CNR Centre of Evolutionary Genetics
• 1984-86: EMB0 long-term fellow, MRC Mammalian Genome Unit, University of Edinburgh, UK
• 1984: Research scientist, CNR Centre of Evolutionary Genetics, Rome, Italy


• 1981-83: Research fellow, Institute of Genetics, University ‘La Sapienza', Rome
• 1979-80: Post-graduate training (Tirocinio), Laboratory of Human Cytogenetics, University ‘La Sapienza', 
• 1978: Degree in Biology, University ‘La Sapienza'

Professional activities, consultancy, memberships in scientific panels 

• 2009-present: Vice Chair, EU Marie-Curie actions (Research and Training Networks), Life Sciences panel, FP6, FP7 and H2020
• 2003-present: Member of the board of evaluators, EU FP6, FP7 and H2020, Life Sciences panel 
• 2014-17: Member of the board of evaluators, MISE (Italian Ministry for Economic Development - Funds for sustainable growth)   
• 2013-17: CNR Board for International bilateral research agreements 
• 2004: Scientific Board, Regional Committee AIRC Lazio

Ad hoc grant reviewer for the Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC), Italian Ministry of University and Research (MIUR), EMBO fellowship applications, UK Wellcome Trust; Cancer Research UK; Science Foundation Ireland; Israel Science Foundation; Université du Luxembourg and others.

Editorial board member for Scientific Reports, Frontiers Research Topics), Peer  J, Atlas of Genetics and Cytogenetics in Oncology and Haematology. 


Ad hoc reviewer for many scientific journals.