Immunology, Transplantation and Infectious Diseases

Leukocyte Biology


Head of Unit

Ruggero Pardi


The main scientific interest of the Leukocyte biology Unit is the dissection of how adhesive interactions control the onset and maintenance of complex biological responses in multicellular organisms, and how dysregulation of such responses contributes to the pathogenesis of major diseases, such as cancer and chronic inflammatory diseases. The group focuses on the role of adhesion receptors in cell proliferation, survival and migration.

To this aim the unit established a fundamental role of G protein-coupled receptor associated beta-arrestins as scaffolds catalyzing the assembly of molecular complexes that control the spatial and temporal regulation of integrin function. Downstream of chemokine stimulation, tissue- infiltrating myeloid cells display activation of the Stress Activated Protein Kinase (SAPK) pathway.

Research activity

The Leukocyte biology Unit is currently investigating the pro-inflammatory function of the Stress Activated Protein Kinase pathway by assessing the transcriptome, proteome and secretome of primary myeloid cells inducibly activating the upstream SAPK member MLK3. Secreted matricellular proteins seem to be a crucial intermediate in the genetic programs of activation and differentiation spurred by SAPK activity in myeloid cells.