Umberto Di Porzio

Researcher of Neuroscience, Former Director

Name Umberto
Surname Di Porzio
Institution CNR - IGB "Adriano Buzzati Traverso"
Telephone +39 081 6132356
Address Institute of Genetics and Biophysics – ABT Via Pietro Castellino 111 – 80131 Napoli, Italy
Umberto Di Porzio


  • Dopamine transporter gene expression in rat mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons is increased by direct interaction with target striatal cells in vitro.

    Publication Date: 01/07/1996 on Brain research. Molecular brain research
    by Perrone-Capano C, Tino A, Amadoro G, Pernas-Alonso R, di Porzio U

    By using a semi-quantitative reverse transcriptase-PCR assay (RT-PCR) we have analyzed dopamine transporter (DAT), tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and synaptic vesicle monoamine transporter (VMAT2) gene expression in rat mesencephalic (MES) primary cultures. Consistent with previous data obtained during rat MES ontogeny, the onset of DAT transcription in vitro is delayed in embryonic day (E)13, but not in E16, MES neurons when compared to that of TH and VMAT2. In co-culture, the addition of target striatal cells (STR) to E13 MES selectively increases DAT mRNA level in DA neurons during the first 3 days in vitro; cortical cells are ineffective. On the contrary, DAT gene does not appear up-regulated in E16 MES co-cultured with target STR cells, indicating that MES DA neurons respond to STR stimulation only at defined developmental stages. Up-regulation of DAT mRNA level by STR in E13 MES seems to require direct cell interactions since target cells do not exert their effect on DAT transcription when are separated from MES cells by a porous barrier, which only allows diffusion of soluble molecules. Thus maturation of DA neurotransmission in vitro appears to follow a developmental program which can be specifically modulated by their target STR cells.

  • Early upregulation of medium neurofilament gene expression in developing spinal cord of the wobbler mouse mutant.

    Publication Date: 01/06/1996 on Brain research. Molecular brain research
    by Pernas-Alonso R, Schaffner AE, Perrone-Capano C, Orlando A, Morelli F, Hansen CT, Barker JL, Esposito B, Cacucci F, di Porzio U

    Homozygous wobbler mouse mutants develop a progressive paralysis due to spinal motoneuron degeneration. To understand the molecular aspect underlying the genetic defect we have studied the embryonic (from E13) and postnatal expression of the three neurofilament and choline acetyltransferase genes in each member from several wild-type (wt) and wobbler (wr) progenies. There are no variations among wt littermates at all ages studied. In contrast, analyses of neurofilament mRNA reveals a 3-4-fold increase of medium neurofilament (NFM) mRNA in wobbler mice (wr/wr). The pattern of increased NFM mRNA during development, prior to the appearance of the wobbler phenotype, among littermates (from heterozygous carriers) conforms to a mendelian inheritance of a single gene defect 1:2:1 (wr/wr:wr/+:+/+). Light and heavy neurofilament mRNA levels are also increased later in development exclusively in those individuals with high NFM mRNA values indicating that increase of the latter is associated with increase of the light and heavy subunit expression. Also NF proteins are increased. Expression of choline acetyltransferase gene is instead always comparable to normal control. Our study provides novel insights into the nature of the wobbler defect, strengthening the hypothesis that neurofilament accumulation plays a pivotal role in the etiopathogenesis of motoneuron degeneration.

  • Target cells modulate dopamine transporter gene expression during brain development.

    Publication Date: 09/05/1994 on Neuroreport
    by Perrone-Capano C, Tino A, di Porzio U

    We have analysed the expression of the dopamine transporter (DAT) gene and compared it with that of tyrosine hydroxylase, neuronal GABA transporter and synaptic vesicle monoamine transporter genes during pre- and post-natal development of rat mesencephalic dopaminergic (DA) neurones. Our results show that DAT transcripts are not detectable until embryonic day (E) 15, whilst those of the other genes analysed are already present at E12. In vitro, the level of DAT gene transcription in mesencephalic E13 DA neurones is increased in coculture with target striatal cells. Thus striatal targets cells regulate, at the transcriptional level, a key step of dopaminergic neurotransmission during DA neurone development.