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Alberto Luini

Research Focus : Morpho-functional organization and regulation of the biosynthetic pathway

Main theme

We are interested in the morpho-functional organization and the regulation of the intracellular membrane transport apparatus. The emphasis is on developing strategies, cellular models and technology (including imaging and systems biology approaches) for the analysis of whole live cellular systems, as distinct from reductionist strategies.

Specific themes

Organizational principles of cargo transport across membrane compartments in living cells.
Control and coordination systems of the biosynthetic pathway
Development of imaging technology for cell biology.
Diseases related to membrane transport and pharmacological approaches.


Imaging: confocal, superresolution, FRET-FLIM microscopy; electron and immuno-electron microscopy and tomography; high-throughput microscopy for screening. Standard protein and lipid biochemistry. proteomics, phosphoproteomics and transcriptomics. bioinformatics.

Main contributions with related publications

Evidence for a general transport principle called compartment maturation-progression.

  • Bonfanti L, Mironov AA Jr, Martella O, Fusella A, Baldassarre M, Buccione R, Mironov AA, Luini A. Procollagen traverses the Golgi stack without leaving the lumen of cisternae: evidence for cisternal maturation. Cell (1998) 95:993-1003
  • Rizzo R., Seetharaman Parashuraman, Puri C., Lucocq J. and Luini A. The dynamics of engineered resident proteins in the mammalian Golgi complex relies on cisternal maturation. J. Cell Biol. (2013) 201: 1027-36
  • Beznoussenko GV, Parashuraman S, Polishchuk R, Martella O, Di Giandomenico D, Fusella A, Spaar A, Sallese M, Capestrano M, Pavelka M, Mironov AA, Luini A. Secretion of soluble proteins by diffusion via inter-cisternal continuities: a novel intra-Golgi transport mechanism eLife (in press)

Evidence for large pleiomorphic transport vesicles and analysis of the underlying molecular mechanisms.

  • Polishchuk RS, Polishchuk E, Marra P, Alberti S, Buccione R, Luini A*, Mironov A. Correlative light-electron microscopy reveals the tubular-saccular ultrastructure of carriers operating between Golgi apparatus and plasma membrane. J Cell Biol (2000) 148:45-58 *corresponding Author

  • Mironov AA, Mironov AA Jr, Beznoussenko GV, Trucco A, Lupetti P, Smith JD, Geerts WJC, Koster AJ, Burger KNJ, Martone ME, Deerinck TJ, Ellisman MH, Luini A. Mechanism of ER-to-Golgi transport: ER-to-Golgi carriers arise through direct en bloc protrusion and multi-stage maturation of specialized ER exit domains. Dev. Cell (2003) 5:583-594

  • Weigert R, Silletta MG,  Spanò S,  Turacchio G , Cericola C, Colanzi A, Mancini R, Polishchuk EV, Salmona M, Facchiano F, Burger KNJ,  Mironov A, Luini A.*, Corda D*. CtBP/Bars induces fission of Golgi membranes by acylating lysophosphatidic acid. Nature (1999) 402:429-433
    *corresponding Author

  • Bonazzi M, Spano S, Turacchio G, Cericola C, Valente C, Colanzi A, Kweon HS, Hsu VW, Polishchuck EV, Polishchuck RS, Sallese M, Pulvirenti T, Corda D, Luini CtBP3/BARS drives membrane fission in dynamin-independent transport pathways. Nat Cell Biol (2005) 7:570-580 

  • Valente C, Turacchio G, Mariggiò S, Pagliuso A, Gaibisso R, Di Tullio G, Santoro M, Formiggini F, Spanò S, Piccini D, Polishchuk RS, Colanzi A, Luini A, Corda D. A 14-3-3γ dimer-based scaffold bridges CtBP1-S/BARS to PI(4)KIIIβ to regulate post-Golgi carrier formation. Nat Cell Biol. 2012 Feb 26;14(4):343-54. 

  • Alessandro Pagliuso, Carmen Valente, Lucia Laura Giordano1, Guiling Li1, Diego Circolo1,Gabriele Turacchio1, Fabio Formiggini2, Roman S. Polishchuk3 Daniela Corda1,§ and Alberto Luini1.Fission of post-Golgi carriers requires theBARS-induced activation of lysophosphatidic acid acyltransferase δ. Under revision (eLife).

Evidence for receptor regulation of ‘constitutive’ secretory transport and for control systems of the transport pathways

  • De Matteis MA, Santini G, Kahn RA, Di Tullio G, Luini A. Receptor and protein kinase C-mediated regulation of ARF binding to the Golgi complex. Nature (1993) 364:818-21 

  • Pulvirenti T, Giannotta M, Capestrano M, Capitani M, Pisanu A, Polishchuk RS, San Pietro E, Beznoussenko GV, Mironov AA, Turacchio G, Hsu VW, Sallese M, Luini A. A traffic-activated Golgi-based signalling circuit coordinates the secretory pathway. Nat Cell Biol (2008) 10: 912-922

  • Jorge Cancino1,2,*, Anita Capalbo1,2, Antonella Di Campli1, Monica Giannotta3,6, Riccardo Rizzo1,2, Juan E. Jung1,4, Rosaria di Martino1,2, Maria Persico1,4 Petra Heinklein5, Michele Sallese3 and Alberto Luini1, 2,*. Control systems of membrane transport at the interface between the endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi. Dev. Cell (2014), in press

Development of correlative video-electron microscopy for cell biology

  • Polishchuk RS, Polishchuk E, Marra P, Alberti S, Buccione R, Luini A*, Mironov A. Correlative light-electron microscopy reveals the tubular-saccular ultrastructure of carriers operating between Golgi apparatus and plasma membrane. J Cell Biol (2000) 148:45-58 *corresponding Author
  • Correlative Light serial Immuno-FRET (CLIF) microscopy localizes multi-protein complexes in single cells Marzullo V, Cancino J, Pardo E, D’Auria S and Luini A. In preparation

Studies of the mechanism of action of correctors of genetic conformational diseases

  • De Matteis MA, Luini A. Mendelian disorders of membrane trafficking. New Eng J Med (2011) 365: 927-38.Ramanath Narayana Hegde*§1,2, Seetharaman Parashuraman*#1,2, Francesco Iorio2,7, Fabrizio Capuani2,8, Fabiana Ciciriello2,3,4, Annamaria Carissimo2, Diego Carrella2, Vincenzo Belcastro2, Advait Subramanian1, Laura Bounti1,9, Maria Persico2, Graeme Carlile3, Luis Galietta5, David.Y.Thomas3, Diego Di Bernardo2,6, and Alberto Luini#1,2. Gene signatures of proteostasis regulators reveal drugable signalling networks acting selectively on ΔF508-CFTR . Under revision (Cell).


Scientific Biography

1973                                  MD, Faculty of Medicine, University of Milan.
1974 - 1975 
Internship - Niguarda Division of "Ca’ Granda" Hospital, "Rizzi" Department of Medicine, Milan, Italy.  
Practice as medical doctor 
1975 - 1978

Research Fellow, Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Laboratory of Drug Metabolism, supervision of L. Manara and S. Garattini. Drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics 

1979 - 1983

Visiting Scientist, Weizmann Institute of Science, Department of Neurobiology, Laboratory of V.I. Teichberg; Rehovot, Israel. Neurochemistry and neurophysiology

1983 - 1986
Visiting Scientist, Pharmacology Section, Laboratory of Clinical Science, National Institute of Mental Health, Laboratory of the Nobel laureate J. Axelrod; Bethesda, Maryland.   
1986 - 1987

Head, Neuroendocrinology Research Unit, Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Milan, Italy.
Cellular endocrinology 


Co-founder of the Consorzio Mario Negri Sud Research Insitute, S. Maria Imbaro (Chieti), Italy


Head, Laboratory of Intracellular Membrane Traffic, Mario Negri Institute, Consorzio Mario Negri Sud, S. Maria Imbaro (Chieti), Italy.Cell biology of membrane transport and bioimaging .

1997Initiator of the Open University Ph.D. Programme at the Mario Negri Sud Institute.

Co-founder and first coordinator of ELMI (European Light Microscopy Initiative) 

2004Co-founder and co-Director of TIDID (Telethon Initiative for the Discovery of Drug Targets).
2004 - 2009Director. Cell Biology and Oncology Department at the Mario Negri Sud Institute. 
2009 - 2014 Principal Investigator, Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine. Cell biology and Pharmacology.   
2009 - present

Research Director, Institute of Protein Biochemistry, the National  Research Council, Naples. Cell biology and Pharmacology


  • EMBO Fellow (Weizmann Institute, Israel)
  • Permanent EMBO Member
  • Emilio Trabucchi Foundation Medal
  • Member of the American Society of Cell Biology (ASCB)
  • Member of the European Life Scientist Organization (ELSO)
  • Member of the International Affairs Committee, ASCB (American Society of Cell Biology)
  • Member of the Scientific Committee of the Italian Association of Cancer Research (AIRC)
  • Member of the Evaluation Committee, Institute of Biomembranes, Utrecht University
  • Member of the Biological Sciences Evaluation Panel for the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology
  • Qualified for the position of Institute Director at the Italian National Research Council
  • Member of the Faculty of 1000
  • Member of the Review Panel of the EMBL Core Facilities and Technologies.
  • National Coordinator of the ESFRI European Imaging Infrastructure EuroBioImaging
  • Member of the EuroBioImaging International Steering Committee.
  • Member of the Science Advisory Board, European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), Grenoble
  • Member of the X ray Committee, CNR
  • Member of the European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Evaluation Panel


Antonella Di Campli      

Anita Capalbo  
Riccardo Rizzo  Vidya Kunnatully Bernadette Lombardi Fabiola MascanzoniManuel MarzulloAdvait Subramanian Rosaria Di Martino 



PhD Student 
Laura Capolungo  

Anna Di Costanzo