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Red blood cell Laboratory

Globulo rosso

Referent: Dr. Gianpaolo Minetti

Co-workers: Dr. Cesare Achilli; Dr. Annarita Ciana

The group's main research line concerns the study of biological membranes with special reference to the classical model of cell membrane, the human erythrocyte one. The interest lies in the study of biochemical properties of normal, pathological, aged in vivo erythrocytes and of the ones stored for transfusion purposes. Moreover we study the erythrocytes produced in extreme conditions (mountaineering, microgravity) destineted to be eliminated according to the mechanism of the so-called neocytolysis. The terminal differentiation of circulating reticulocytes and the characterization of the membrane processes that determine their maturation to red blood cells is the subject of more recent and active research. Electrophoresis, western blotting, fluorescence microscopy, electron paramagnetic resonance are used as biochemical and biophysical analysis methods of the protein and lipid components of the erythrocyte membrane. Immunomagnetic and gradient separation techniques are used for the isolation of selected populations of reticulocytes and red blood cells of different ages. The activity aims to better characterize the structure and function of the different membrane domains, such as the membranoskeleton, membrane "rafts", membrane vesicles and their interactions. Topics of enzymological research on redox enzymes (methionine sulfoxide reductase) and toxicology of nanomaterials are grafted on this main line.