Federico Forneris, 2013

Federico Forneris

Career Development Award Project Title

“Molecular Recognition at the Neuromuscular Synapse”, 2013

Who he is

Trained in physical chemistry and molecular biology, Federico Forneris returned to Italy after 5 years in the Netherlands at the beginning of 2014. Thanks to the Armenise Harvard Career Development Award, he now leads the Armenise Harvard laboratory of structural biology at the University of Pavia. In 2014 he also won the Levi Montalcini fellowship for young researchers. He is currently associate professor of Molecular Biology in the Department of Biology and Biotechnology of the University of Pavia, where also serves as Vice-Rector for research. Furthermore, he is the President of the INF-ACT Foundation, a EU-Funded consortium (PNRR, Partenariati Estesi) of 25 Italian institutions focusing on the multi-disciplinary study of Emerging Infectious Diseases

What he does

The Forneris team studies how the interactions between various extracellular macromolecules significant from the bio-medical viewpoint trigger processes that lead to intracellular signaling cascades with an impact on cell communication and development. This is achieved through the integration of state-of-the-art methods for recombinant protein production (the comprehensive description of the strategies established for recombinant protein production has been published  in Faravelli et al., Bio Protocol, 2021) with biochemistry, biochemistry, biophysics and structural studies of molecules. Active research projects focus on molecular interactions responsible for synapse formation (what enables communication between neurons in the brain and muscle cells, allowing us to move and breathe?), collagen biosynthesis (what are the key steps needed for collagen maturation and tissue homeostasis), and extracellular signaling (how does a single molecular trigger initiate a cascade responsible for dramatic cellular events such as differentiation, or cell death?).  The goal is to generate a “molecular blueprint” of the most critical interactions responsible for these processes: a little like trying to understand how an engine is made by looking at each of its essential components, to better understand how it actually works. The goal is to reveal the structures and mechanisms of tertiary and quaternary-induced activation in multi-domain proteins and multi-protein complexes that underlie complex recognition and regulation processes.

News from the Lab 

For the most recent updates, please check the news section of the Forneris lab website.

Latest achievements include:

the characterization of the interactions between a synapse-specific proteoglycan of the retina, named Pikachurin and an orphan receptor named GPR179 on the surface of bipolar cells, with implications in vision associated to a rare disease named congenital stationary night blindness (Patil et al., Science Signaling, 2023)