Marina Melone

Professor of Neurology
Former Director of the CIRN

Name Marina
Surname Melone
Institution Università degli Studi della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli
Telephone +39 081 566 6810
Mobile +39 333 956 6365
Address Department of Medical, Surgical, Neurological, Metabolic Sciences, and Aging, 2nd Division of Neurology, Center for Rare Diseases, University of Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli", Napoli, Italy
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Marina Melone


  • Role of RB and RB2/P130 genes in marrow stromal stem cells plasticity.

    Publication Date: 01/08/2004 on Journal of cellular physiology
    by Jori FP, Napolitano MA, Melone MA, Cipollaro M, Cascino A, Giordano A, Galderisi U
    DOI: 10.1002/jcp.20026

    Marrow stromal cells (MSCs) are stem-like cells having a striking somatic plasticity. In fact, besides differentiating into mesenchymal lineages (bone, cartilage, and fat), they are capable of differentiating into neurons and astrocytes in vitro and in vivo. The RB and RB2/P130 genes, belonging to the retinoblastoma gene family, play a key role in neurogenesis, and for this reason, we investigated their role in neural commitment and differentiation of MSCs. In MSCs that were either uncommitted or committed toward neural differentiation, we ectopically expressed RB and RB2/P130 genes and analyzed their role in regulating the cell cycle, apoptosis and differentiation. In uncommitted MSCs, the activity of RB and RB2/P130 appeared limited to negatively regulating cell cycle progression, having no role in apoptosis and differentiation (toward either mesenchymal or neural lineages). On the other hand, in MSCs committed toward the neural phenotype, both RB and RB2/P130 reduced cell proliferation rate and affected the apoptotic process. RB protected differentiating cells from programmed cell death. On the contrary, RB2/P130 increased the percentage of cells in apoptosis. All of these activities were accomplished mainly in an HDAC-independent way. The retinoblastoma genes also influenced differentiation in neural committed MSCs. RB2/P130 contributes mainly to the induction of generic neural properties, while RB triggers cholinergic differentiation. These differentiating activities are HDAC-dependent. Our research shows that there is a critical temporal requirement for the RB genes during neuronal differentiation of MSCs: they are not required for cell commitment but play a role in the maturation process. For the above reasons, RB and RB2/P130 may have a role in neural differentiation but not in neural determination.

  • Revelation of a new mitochondrial DNA mutation (G12147A) in a MELAS/MERFF phenotype.

    Publication Date: 01/02/2004 on Archives of neurology
    by Melone MA, Tessa A, Petrini S, Lus G, Sampaolo S, di Fede G, Santorelli FM, Cotrufo R
    DOI: 10.1001/archneur.61.2.269

    A 26-year-old man presented at onset with the syndrome of mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis, and strokelike episodes (MELAS) and later with a phenotype for MELAS and myoclonic epilepsy and ragged red fiber disease (MELAS/MERRF).

  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease with giant axons: a clinicopathological and genetic entity.

    Publication Date: 14/10/2003 on Neurology
    by Lus G, Nelis E, Jordanova A, Löfgren A, Cavallaro T, Ammendola A, Melone MA, Rizzuto N, Timmerman V, Cotrufo R, De Jonghe P

    The authors report an Italian family with autosomal-dominant Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) in which there were giant axons in the sural nerve biopsy. Linkage to the known CMT2 loci (CMT2A, CMT2B, CMT2D, CMT2F) and mutations in the known CMT2 genes (Cx32, MPZ, NEFL), GAN, NEFM, and CMT1A duplication/HNPP deletion were excluded. This family with CMT and giant axons has a pathologic and genetic entity distinct from classic CMT.

  • Skeletal muscle metabolism in physiology and in cancer disease.

    Publication Date: 01/09/2003 on Journal of cellular biochemistry
    by Giordano A, Calvani M, Petillo O, Carteni' M, Melone MR, Peluso G
    DOI: 10.1002/jcb.10601

    Skeletal muscle is a tissue of high demand and it accounts for most of daily energy consumption. The classical concept of energy metabolism in skeletal muscle has been profoundly modified on the basis of studies showing the influence of additional factors (i.e., uncoupling proteins (UCPs) and peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPARs)) controlling parameters, such as substrate availability, cellular enzymes, carrier proteins, and proton leak, able to affect glycolysis, nutrient oxidation, and protein degradation. This extremely balanced system is greatly altered by cancer disease that can induce muscle cachexia with significant deleterious consequences and results in muscle wasting and weakness, delaying or preventing ambulation, and rehabilitation in catabolic patients.

  • EGF-responsive rat neural stem cells: molecular follow-up of neuron and astrocyte differentiation in vitro.

    Publication Date: 01/05/2003 on Journal of cellular physiology
    by Jori FP, Galderisi U, Piegari E, Cipollaro M, Cascino A, Peluso G, Cotrufo R, Giordano A, Melone MA
    DOI: 10.1002/jcp.10249

    Neural stem cells (NSCs) could be very useful for the "cell therapy" treatment of neurological disorders. For this reason basic studies aiming to well characterize the biology of NSCs are of great interest. We carried out a molecular and immunocytochemical analysis of EGF-responsive NSCs obtained from rat pups. After the initial growth of NSCs as floating neurospheres in EGF-containing medium, cells were plated on poly-L-ornithine-coated dishes either in the presence or absence of EGF. We followed cell differentiation and apoptosis for 21 days in vitro and analyzed the expression levels of some genes having a major role in these processes, such as pRB, pRB2/p130, p27, and p53. We observed that EGF impairs neuronal differentiation. Furthermore, in the absence of mitogens, apoptosis, which appeared to proceed through the "p53 network," was significantly lower than in the presence of EGF. The cyclin kinase inhibitor p27, while important for cell cycle exit, seemed dispensable for cell survival and differentiation.

  • Abnormal accumulation of tTGase products in muscle and erythrocytes of chorea-acanthocytosis patients.

    Publication Date: 01/10/2002 on Journal of neuropathology and experimental neurology
    by Melone MA, Di Fede G, Peluso G, Lus G, Di Iorio G, Sampaolo S, Capasso A, Gentile V, Cotrufo R

    Chorea-Acanthocytosis (CHAC) is an autosomal recessive disease characterized by neurodegeneration and acanthocytosis. Enhanced creatine kinase concentration is a constant feature of the condition. The mechanism underlying CHAC is unknown. However, acanthocytosis and enhanced creatine kinase suggest a protein defect that deranges the membrane-cytoskeleton interface in erythrocytes and muscle, thereby resulting in neurodegeneration. Acanthocytes have been correlated with structural and functional changes in membrane protein band 3--a ubiquitous anion transporter. Residue Gln-30 of band 3 serves as a membrane substrate for tissue transglutaminase (tTGase), which belongs to a class of intra- and extra-cellular Ca2+-dependent cross-linking enzymes found in most vertebrate tissues. In an attempt to cast light on the pathophysiology of CHAC, we used reverse-phase HPLC and immunohistochemistry to evaluate the role of tTGase in this disorder. We found increased amounts of tTGase-derived N(epsilon)-(-gamma-glutamyl)lysine isopeptide cross-links in erythrocytes and muscle from CHAC patients. Furthermore, immunohistochemistry demonstrated abnormal accumulation of tTGase products as well as proteinaceous bodies in CHAC muscles. These findings could explain the mechanisms underlying the increased blood levels of creatine kinase and acanthocytosis, which are the most consistent features of this neurodegenerative disease.

  • Decreased mitochondrial carnitine translocase in skeletal muscles impairs utilization of fatty acids in insulin-resistant patients.

    Publication Date: 01/05/2002 on Frontiers in bioscience : a journal and virtual library
    by Peluso G, Petillo O, Margarucci S, Mingrone G, Greco AV, Indiveri C, Palmieri F, Melone MA, Reda E, Calvani M

    Insulin resistance (IR) and its health consequences (diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity etc.) affect between 25 and 35% of Westernized populations. Decreased fatty acid (FA) oxidation in skeletal muscle is implicated in obesity-related IR. Carnitine-acylcarnitine translocase (CACT) transports long-chain FAs both into mitochondria (as carnitine esters for energy-generating processes) and out of mitochondria. To determine whether CACT activity correlates with decreased FA oxidation we measured CACT concentrations in cellular and mitochondrial extracts from the skeletal muscle of 19 obese IR individuals and of 19 lean controls. We also evaluated carnitine transport in skeletal muscle mitochondria in both groups. Mitochondrial CACT was decreased at translational and transductional level, and carnitine-carnitine and acylcarnitine-carnitine exchange rates were significantly lower in IR subjects. Aberrant acylcarnitine flux into mitochondria was not correlated with decreased activity of other components of the mitochondrial carnitine system (i.e., carnitine palmitoyl transferase-I and II). Our data suggest that by restraining entry of FA-coenzyme A into mitochondria, low CACT levels increase cytosolic FA levels and their incorporation into glycerolipids. The low level of CACT in IR muscle may contribute to the elevated muscle concentrations of triglycerides, diacylglycerol, and FA-coenzyme A characteristic of IR muscle.

  • RB2/p130 ectopic gene expression in neuroblastoma stem cells: evidence of cell-fate restriction and induction of differentiation.

    Publication Date: 15/12/2001 on The Biochemical journal
    by Jori FP, Galderisi U, Piegari E, Peluso G, Cipollaro M, Cascino A, Giordano A, Melone MA

    The activity of the RB2/p130 gene, which is a member of the retinoblastoma gene family, is cell-cycle-regulated and plays a key role in growth inhibition and differentiation. We used neuroblastoma cell lines as a model for studies on neural crest progenitor cell differentiation. We show that Rb2/p130 ectopic protein expression induces morphological and molecular modifications, promoting differentiation of intermediate (I) phenotype SK-N-BE(2)-C neuroblastoma cells towards a neuroblastic (N) rather than a Schwann/glial/melanocytic (S) phenotype. These modifications are stable as they persist even after treatment with an S-phenotype inducer. Rb2/p130 ectopic expression also induces a more differentiated phenotype in N-type SH-SY-5Y cells. Further, this function appears to be independent of cell-cycle withdrawal. The data reported suggest that the Rb2/p130 protein is able to induce neuronal lineage specification and differentiation in neural crest stem and committed neuroblastoma cells, respectively. Thus, the Rb2/p130 protein seems to be required throughout the full neural maturation process.

  • Carnitine protects the molecular chaperone activity of lens alpha-crystallin and decreases the post-translational protein modifications induced by oxidative stress.

    Publication Date: 01/07/2001 on FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
    by Peluso G, Petillo O, Barbarisi A, Melone MA, Reda E, Nicolai R, Calvani M
  • pRb2/p130 gene overexpression induces astrocyte differentiation.

    Publication Date: 01/03/2001 on Molecular and cellular neurosciences
    by Galderisi U, Melone MA, Jori FP, Piegari E, Di Bernardo G, Cipollaro M, Cascino A, Peluso G, Claudio PP, Giordano A
    DOI: 10.1006/mcne.2000.0949

    There are many data on the activity of the RB gene in neural differentiation and apoptosis, but the role of pRb2/p130 in neuronal and glial maturation has been far less investigated. To elucidate the role of pRb2/p130 in astrocyte development we overexpressed this protein in astrocytoma and normal astrocyte cultures by adenoviral-mediated gene transfer. In astrocytoma cells, p130/RB2 overexpression resulted in a significant reduction of cell growth and in an increased G(0)/G(1) cell population. We did not observe any induction of programmed cell death as determined by TUNEL reaction. Interestingly, pRb2/p130 overexpression induced astrocyte differentiation. Astrocyte cell cycle arrest and differentiation seemed to proceed through a way distinct from the p53 pathway.