Genetics and cell biology

Chromatin dynamics


Group leader

Marco Bianchi


Chromatin dynamics Unit studies the organization and function of chromatin, and how chromatin or its components become themselves a signal when they are outside the cell.

Research activity

Outside the cell, chromatin or its components act as Damage Associated Molecular Patterns (DAMP), and trigger inflammatory responses. In particular, HMGB1 (High Mobility Group Box 1) protein contributes to organize chromatin within the nucleus, and cells missing HMGB1 have fewer nucleosomes. Cells that die in an unscheduled way release HMGB1, which functions as a DAMP, binds to sevral different receptors, and warns other cells in the organism that a cell has died. HMGB1 can also be secreted actively by severely stressed cells, which at the same time alter the state of their chromatin. HMGB1 may or may not contain a disulfide bridge between two cysteines, and the two forms act on different receptors.

Recently, we have also shown that the state of tissue inflammation modulates the proportion of reduced and disulfide HMB1, and that the reduced protein promotes the repair and regeneration of damaged tissues.