Instructor, Microbiology & Immunology - Baxter Laboratory
Honors & Awards
Best Poster Award, Bay Area Aging Meeting (2019)
Stanford Bio-X Travel Award, Stanford Bio-X (2017)
Best Poster Award, Baxter Laboratory Retreat (2017)
Stem Cell Research Grant, BD Biosciences (2012-2015)
Oral Presentation Award, Leiden International Medical Students Conference (LIMSC) (2011)
LIMSC Travel Fellowship, Leiden International Medical Students Conference (LIMSC) (2011)
Transcontinental FEBS Youth Travel Fund (YTF) Fellowship, Federation of European Biochemical Society (FEBS) (2010)
International Thesis Research Fellowship, University of Bologna Medical School (2002)
Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations
Guest Instructor, The Laboratory Mouse in Biomedical Research, Stanford University School of Medicine (2020 - 2020)
Guest Instructor, Stanford CyTOF/Immune Monitoring Course, Stanford University School of Medicine (2017 - 2017)
Guest Instructor, BME 177: Engineering Stem Cells, University of California Santa Cruz (2016 - 2016)
President, AWIS Palo Alto (2016 - 2020)
Ad hoc reviewer, The FASEB Journal (2012 - Present)
Member, International Society for Stem Cell Research (2012 - Present)
Ad hoc grant reviewer, Italian Ministry of Health, Department of Public Health and Innovation (2011 - Present)
Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Medical School, Hematology/Cell Signaling (2011)
B.S./M.S., University of Bologna Medical School, Medical Biotechnology (2003)
Helen M. Blau, Ermelinda Porpiglia, David Burns. "United States Patent 63/042,379 Rejuvenation of muscle stem cell function", US Provisional Patent Application, Jun 22, 2020
Glucose Metabolism Drives Histone Acetylation Landscape Transitions that Dictate Muscle Stem Cell Function.
2019; 27 (13): 3939
The impact of glucose metabolism on muscle regeneration remains unresolved. We identify glucose metabolism as a crucial driver of histone acetylation and myogenic cell fate. We use single-cell mass cytometry (CyTOF) and flow cytometry to characterize the histone acetylation and metabolic states of quiescent, activated, and differentiating muscle stem cells (MuSCs). We find glucose is dispensable for mitochondrial respiration in proliferating MuSCs, so that glucose becomes available for maintaining high histone acetylation via acetyl-CoA. Conversely, quiescent and differentiating MuSCs increase glucose utilization for respiration and have consequently reduced acetylation. Pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) activity serves as a rheostat for histone acetylation and must be controlled for muscle regeneration. Increased PDH activity in proliferation increases histone acetylation and chromatin accessibility at genes that must be silenced for differentiation to proceed, and thus promotes self-renewal. These results highlight metabolism as a determinant of MuSC histone acetylation, fate, and function during muscle regeneration.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.05.092
View details for PubMedID 31242425
High-resolution myogenic lineage mapping by single-cell mass cytometry
NATURE CELL BIOLOGY
2017; 19 (5): 558-?
Muscle regeneration is a dynamic process during which cell state and identity change over time. A major roadblock has been a lack of tools to resolve a myogenic progression in vivo. Here we capitalize on a transformative technology, single-cell mass cytometry (CyTOF), to identify in vivo skeletal muscle stem cell and previously unrecognized progenitor populations that precede differentiation. We discovered two cell surface markers, CD9 and CD104, whose combined expression enabled in vivo identification and prospective isolation of stem and progenitor cells. Data analysis using the X-shift algorithm paired with single-cell force-directed layout visualization defined a molecular signature of the activated stem cell state (CD44(+)/CD98(+)/MyoD(+)) and delineated a myogenic trajectory during recovery from acute muscle injury. Our studies uncover the dynamics of skeletal muscle regeneration in vivo and pave the way for the elucidation of the regulatory networks that underlie cell-state transitions in muscle diseases and ageing.
View details for DOI 10.1038/ncb3507
View details for Web of Science ID 000400376100019
View details for PubMedID 28414312
Rejuvenation of the muscle stem cell population restores strength to injured aged muscles.
2014; 20 (3): 255-264
The elderly often suffer from progressive muscle weakness and regenerative failure. We demonstrate that muscle regeneration is impaired with aging owing in part to a cell-autonomous functional decline in skeletal muscle stem cells (MuSCs). Two-thirds of MuSCs from aged mice are intrinsically defective relative to MuSCs from young mice, with reduced capacity to repair myofibers and repopulate the stem cell reservoir in vivo following transplantation. This deficiency is correlated with a higher incidence of cells that express senescence markers and is due to elevated activity of the p38α and p38β mitogen-activated kinase pathway. We show that these limitations cannot be overcome by transplantation into the microenvironment of young recipient muscles. In contrast, subjecting the MuSC population from aged mice to transient inhibition of p38α and p38β in conjunction with culture on soft hydrogel substrates rapidly expands the residual functional MuSC population from aged mice, rejuvenating its potential for regeneration and serial transplantation as well as strengthening of damaged muscles of aged mice. These findings reveal a synergy between biophysical and biochemical cues that provides a paradigm for a localized autologous muscle stem cell therapy for the elderly.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nm.3464
View details for PubMedID 24531378
Erythropoiesis: From Molecular Pathways to System Properties
SYSTEMS BIOLOGY APPROACH TO BLOOD
2014; 844: 37-58
Erythropoiesis is regulated through a long-range negative feedback loop, whereby tissue hypoxia stimulates erythropoietin (Epo) secretion, which promotes an increase in erythropoietic rate. However, this long-range feedback loop, by itself, cannot account for the observed system properties of erythropoiesis, namely, a wide dynamic range, stability in the face of random perturbations, and a rapid stress response. Here, we show that three Epo-regulated erythroblast survival pathways each give rise to distinct system properties. The induction of Bcl-xL by signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (Stat5) is responsive to the rate of change in Epo levels, rather than to its absolute level, and is therefore maximally but transiently activated in acute stress. By contrast, Epo-mediated suppression of the pro-survival Fas and Bim pathways is proportional to the levels of stress/Epo and persists throughout chronic stress. Together, these elements operate in a manner reminiscent of a "proportional-integral-derivative (PID)" feedback controller frequently found in engineering applications. A short-range negative autoregulatory loop within the early erythroblast compartment, operated by Fas/FasL, filters out random noise and controls a reserve pool of early erythroblasts that is poised to accelerate the response to acute stress. Both these properties have previously been identified as inherent to negative regulatory motifs. Finally, we show that signal transduction by Stat5 combines binary and graded modalities, thereby increasing signaling fidelity over the wide dynamic range of Epo found in health and disease.
View details for DOI 10.1007/978-1-4939-2095-2_3
View details for Web of Science ID 000350414400004
View details for PubMedID 25480636
Stat5 Signaling Specifies Basal versus Stress Erythropoietic Responses through Distinct Binary and Graded Dynamic Modalities
2012; 10 (8)
Erythropoietin (Epo)-induced Stat5 phosphorylation (p-Stat5) is essential for both basal erythropoiesis and for its acceleration during hypoxic stress. A key challenge lies in understanding how Stat5 signaling elicits distinct functions during basal and stress erythropoiesis. Here we asked whether these distinct functions might be specified by the dynamic behavior of the Stat5 signal. We used flow cytometry to analyze Stat5 phosphorylation dynamics in primary erythropoietic tissue in vivo and in vitro, identifying two signaling modalities. In later (basophilic) erythroblasts, Epo stimulation triggers a low intensity but decisive, binary (digital) p-Stat5 signal. In early erythroblasts the binary signal is superseded by a high-intensity graded (analog) p-Stat5 response. We elucidated the biological functions of binary and graded Stat5 signaling using the EpoR-HM mice, which express a "knocked-in" EpoR mutant lacking cytoplasmic phosphotyrosines. Strikingly, EpoR-HM mice are restricted to the binary signaling mode, which rescues these mice from fatal perinatal anemia by promoting binary survival decisions in erythroblasts. However, the absence of the graded p-Stat5 response in the EpoR-HM mice prevents them from accelerating red cell production in response to stress, including a failure to upregulate the transferrin receptor, which we show is a novel stress target. We found that Stat5 protein levels decline with erythroblast differentiation, governing the transition from high-intensity graded signaling in early erythroblasts to low-intensity binary signaling in later erythroblasts. Thus, using exogenous Stat5, we converted later erythroblasts into high-intensity graded signal transducers capable of eliciting a downstream stress response. Unlike the Stat5 protein, EpoR expression in erythroblasts does not limit the Stat5 signaling response, a non-Michaelian paradigm with therapeutic implications in myeloproliferative disease. Our findings show how the binary and graded modalities combine to generate high-fidelity Stat5 signaling over the entire basal and stress Epo range. They suggest that dynamic behavior may encode information during STAT signal transduction.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001383
View details for Web of Science ID 000308501400010
View details for PubMedID 22969412
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3433736
Contrasting dynamic responses in vivo of the Bcl-x(L) and Bim erythropoietic survival pathways
2012; 119 (5): 1228-1239
Survival signaling by the erythropoietin (Epo) receptor (EpoR) is essential for erythropoiesis and for its acceleration in hypoxic stress. Several apparently redundant EpoR survival pathways were identified in vitro, raising the possibility of their functional specialization in vivo. Here we used mouse models of acute and chronic stress, including a hypoxic environment and β-thalassemia, to identify two markedly different response dynamics for two erythroblast survival pathways in vivo. Induction of the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-x(L) is rapid but transient, while suppression of the proapoptotic protein Bim is slower but persistent. Similar to sensory adaptation, however, the Bcl-x(L) pathway "resets," allowing it to respond afresh to acute stress superimposed on a chronic stress stimulus. Using "knock-in" mouse models expressing mutant EpoRs, we found that adaptation in the Bcl-x(L) response occurs because of adaptation of its upstream regulator Stat5, both requiring the EpoR distal cytoplasmic domain. We conclude that survival pathways show previously unsuspected functional specialization for the acute and chronic phases of the stress response. Bcl-x(L) induction provides a "stop-gap" in acute stress, until slower but permanent pathways are activated. Furthermore, pathologic elevation of Bcl-x(L) may be the result of impaired adaptation, with implications for myeloproliferative disease mechanisms.
View details for DOI 10.1182/blood-2011-07-365346
View details for Web of Science ID 000300400300023
View details for PubMedID 22086418
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3277355
Identification and analysis of mouse erythroid progenitors using the CD71/TER119 flow-cytometric assay.
Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE
The study of erythropoiesis aims to understand how red cells are formed from earlier hematopoietic and erythroid progenitors. Specifically, the rate of red cell formation is regulated by the hormone erythropoietin (Epo), whose synthesis is triggered by tissue hypoxia. A threat to adequate tissue oxygenation results in a rapid increase in Epo, driving an increase in erythropoietic rate, a process known as the erythropoietic stress response. The resulting increase in the number of circulating red cells improves tissue oxygen delivery. An efficient erythropoietic stress response is therefore critical to the survival and recovery from physiological and pathological conditions such as high altitude, anemia, hemorrhage, chemotherapy or stem cell transplantation. The mouse is a key model for the study of erythropoiesis and its stress response. Mouse definitive (adult-type) erythropoiesis takes place in the fetal liver between embryonic days 12.5 and 15.5, in the neonatal spleen, and in adult spleen and bone marrow. Classical methods of identifying erythroid progenitors in tissue rely on the ability of these cells to give rise to red cell colonies when plated in Epo-containing semi-solid media. Their erythroid precursor progeny are identified based on morphological criteria. Neither of these classical methods allow access to large numbers of differentiation-stage-specific erythroid cells for molecular study. Here we present a flow-cytometric method of identifying and studying differentiation-stage-specific erythroid progenitors and precursors, directly in the context of freshly isolated mouse tissue. The assay relies on the cell-surface markers CD71, Ter119, and on the flow-cytometric 'forward-scatter' parameter, which is a function of cell size. The CD71/Ter119 assay can be used to study erythroid progenitors during their response to erythropoietic stress in vivo, for example, in anemic mice or mice housed in low oxygen conditions. It may also be used to study erythroid progenitors directly in the tissues of genetically modified adult mice or embryos, in order to assess the specific role of the modified molecular pathway in erythropoiesis.
View details for DOI 10.3791/2809
View details for PubMedID 21847081
Hormonal regulation of the humoral innate immune response in Drosophila melanogaster
JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY
2008; 211 (16): 2712-2724
Juvenile hormone (JH) and 20-hydroxy-ecdysone (20E) are highly versatile hormones, coordinating development, growth, reproduction and aging in insects. Pulses of 20E provide key signals for initiating developmental and physiological transitions, while JH promotes or inhibits these signals in a stage-specific manner. Previous evidence suggests that JH and 20E might modulate innate immunity, but whether and how these hormones interact to regulate the immune response remains unclear. Here we show that JH and 20E have antagonistic effects on the induction of antimicrobial peptide (AMP) genes in Drosophila melanogaster. 20E pretreatment of Schneider S2 cells promoted the robust induction of AMP genes, following immune stimulation. On the other hand, JH III, and its synthetic analogs (JHa) methoprene and pyriproxyfen, strongly interfered with this 20E-dependent immune potentiation, although these hormones did not inhibit other 20E-induced cellular changes. Similarly, in vivo analyses in adult flies confirmed that JH is a hormonal immuno-suppressor. RNA silencing of either partner of the ecdysone receptor heterodimer (EcR or Usp) in S2 cells prevented the 20E-induced immune potentiation. In contrast, silencing methoprene-tolerant (Met), a candidate JH receptor, did not impair immuno-suppression by JH III and JHa, indicating that in this context MET is not a necessary JH receptor. Our results suggest that 20E and JH play major roles in the regulation of gene expression in response to immune challenge.
View details for DOI 10.1242/jeb.014878
View details for Web of Science ID 000258297000022
View details for PubMedID 18689425
Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV) infection of CNS glial cells results in TLR2-MyD88/Mal-dependent inflammatory responses
JOURNAL OF NEUROIMMUNOLOGY
2008; 194 (1-2): 70-82
In response to invading pathogens, Toll-like receptors (TLR) play a critical role in the initiation of the innate immune response, which can be either beneficial or detrimental to the host. In the present study, we demonstrated that central nervous system (CNS) glial cells are activated by Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV) in a TLR2-MyD88/Mal-dependent manner. Specifically, in response to LCMV, both astrocytes and microglial cells isolated from wild-type (WT) mice produced chemokines, such as MCP-1, RANTES and TNF-alpha. Similar responses occurred in TLR3 KO and TLR4 KO glial cells. In striking contrast, both astrocytes and microglial cells isolated from mice deficient in TLR2, MyD88, and Mal did not produce any of these chemokines. In addition, LCMV infection of glial cells induced up-regulation of TLR2, MHC class-I and II, CD40, CD86 in a MyD88-dependent manner. These results define a functional role for TLR signaling in viral infection-induced activation of CNS glial cells as well as for the immunopathology in the CNS.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2007.11.018
View details for Web of Science ID 000254683600011
View details for PubMedID 18295350
Negative autoregulation by FAS mediates robust fetal erythropoiesis
2007; 5 (10): 2296-2311
Tissue development is regulated by signaling networks that control developmental rate and determine ultimate tissue mass. Here we present a novel computational algorithm used to identify regulatory feedback and feedforward interactions between progenitors in developing erythroid tissue. The algorithm makes use of dynamic measurements of red cell progenitors between embryonic days 12 and 15 in the mouse. It selects for intercellular interactions that reproduce the erythroid developmental process and endow it with robustness to external perturbations. This analysis predicts that negative autoregulatory interactions arise between early erythroblasts of similar maturation stage. By studying embryos mutant for the death receptor FAS, or for its ligand, FASL, and by measuring the rate of FAS-mediated apoptosis in vivo, we show that FAS and FASL are pivotal negative regulators of fetal erythropoiesis, in the manner predicted by the computational model. We suggest that apoptosis in erythroid development mediates robust homeostasis regulating the number of red blood cells reaching maturity.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pbio.0050252
View details for Web of Science ID 000251072700019
View details for PubMedID 17896863
The Drosophila cell corpse engulfment receptor draper mediates glial clearance of severed axons
2006; 50 (6): 869-881
Neuron-glia communication is central to all nervous system responses to trauma, yet neural injury signaling pathways remain poorly understood. Here we explore cellular and molecular aspects of neural injury signaling in Drosophila. We show that transected Drosophila axons undergo injury-induced degeneration that is morphologically similar to Wallerian degeneration in mammals and can be suppressed by the neuroprotective mouse Wlds protein. Axonal injury elicits potent morphological and molecular responses from Drosophila glia: glia upregulate expression of the engulfment receptor Draper, undergo dramatic changes in morphology, and rapidly recruit cellular processes toward severed axons. In draper mutants, glia fail to respond morphologically to axon injury, and severed axons are not cleared from the CNS. Thus Draper appears to act as a glial receptor for severed axon-derived molecular cues that drive recruitment of glial processes to injured axons for engulfment.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2006.04.028
View details for Web of Science ID 000238589500008
View details for PubMedID 16772169