Photo of Ivan Conte, PhD in lab

Role of autophagy in photoreceptor cell homeostasis and disease

PROJECT TITLE: Role of autophagy in photoreceptor cell homeostasis and disease.
  • Ivan Conte, PhD
  • University of Naples
  • Naples, Italy

$200,000 Over Two Years

Ivan Conte graduated in 1999, with a degree in Biology from University of Naples “Federico II”. In 2004, he completed his Ph.D. studies on the molecular mechanisms underlying inherited retinal dystrophies in the laboratory of Prof. A. Ciccodicola also at the University of Naples. To broaden his interest in the visual system, he moved to the Institute of Neurobiology “Ramon y Cajal” in Madrid (Spain), working as a postdoc in the laboratory of Prof. P. Bovolenta, where he studied the development of retinal cells and mechanism behind retinal disease. In 2007, he moved to the laboratory of Prof. Banfi at TIGEM and was honored for scientific achievements in Neurobiology by the President of the Italian Republic. Since 2012, he has directed his own laboratory in TIGEM. From 2019, he has held the position of Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology at University of Naples “Federico II”. Dr. Conte’s IRRF-funded research will have a main goal of understanding of the biological mechanisms regulating cell clearance function in the retina and to translate cell clearance discoveries into novel therapeutic strategies for adRP. To achieve this goal three specific aims will be addressed: AIM 1: Defining miR-211/Ezrin axis in cell clearance on human-iPSC-derived photoreceptors. The team will assess the contribution of miR-211 in regulating the Ezrin/AKT/mTOR signaling on autophagy. AIM 2: Defining the role of miR-211/Ezrin axis in RPE/PR crosstalk, in vivo. A detailed analysis of the role of miR-211 on the AKT/mTOR-mediated control of autophagy in photoreceptor cells will be carried out. AIM 3: Long-term in vivo evaluation of miR-211 therapeutic potential in retinal degeneration. The team aim to further assess the therapeutic treatment and investigate on efficacy of miR-211-mediated Ezrin inhibition in adult mice until 18 months. TERMS: MIRN211 also known as mir-211 – MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short (20-24 nt) non-coding RNAs that are involved in post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression in multicellular organisms by affecting both the stability and translation of mRNAs.