Experimental oncology

Cell signaling


Group Leader

Marta Muzio


This group studies the molecular events that regulate activation and signaling in normal and malignant cells. Different classes of transmembrane receptors can activate distinct signaling pathways; this will drive proliferation, differentiation or apoptosis depending on the nature of the receptor and the following signaling pathways. The investigation of these elements will potentially lead to the identification of proteins and mechanisms that may be exploited as novel therapeutic targets in oncology.

Research activity

Cell signaling Unit recently focused on B-cell receptor (BCR) and Toll-like receptors signaling in leukemia and lymphoma. Briefly, the group discovered that distinct BCR-signaling pathways are constitutively activated in a subset chronic lymphocytic leukemia, resembling a molecular signature of anergy; importantly, targeting anergy by using NFAT and MEK inhibitors triggered cell death.
The unit also found that distinct Toll-like receptors are expressed on chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells, and they are functionally involved in regulating NFkB activation, cell viability, proliferation and apoptosis; to note, the inhibitory receptor TIR8 is downregulated in malignant cells.