National Research Council of Italy

Institute of Biosciences and BioResources

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Ennio Cocca

Role: Researcher
Section: Researchers and Technologists
Division: Naples
Tel: (39) 081-6132552-081-6132554

Ennio Cocca

Role: Researcher
Section: Researchers and Technologists
Division: Naples
Tel: (39) 081-6132552


Dr. Ennio Cocca


Via P. Castellino 111, 80131 Naples ITALY

tel. +39 081 6132552 (direct); +39 081 6132554 (lab)


Research Interests

My research is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of adaptation and response to stress. My main study model is represented by the Antarctic fish, which inhabit the cold and richly oxygenated waters of the Southern Ocean. Among them, Channichthyids (icefish) are the only vertebrates which lack hemoglobin biosynthesis. Fish are particularly suited to studies of molecular evolution because the characterization of their genomes suggests that a substantial number of genes may be evolving faster than in other vertebrate lineages.

I have been recently involved in the study of transposable elements (TEs) in the genome of Notothenioids, the main group of Antarctic fish. TEs are now considered to play an important role in the mechanisms of genome evolution and adaptation. At present my studies regard the investigation of effects of changes in oxygen levels in regulating gene expression in Notothenioids and the expression analysis of genes involved in oxidative stress response in various systems.

Current projects and activity

APEH is a ubiquitous cytosolic protease that plays an important role in the detoxification of oxidized proteins. To explore the physiological role of this enzyme, in collaboration with colleagues from IBBR and ISA (CNR) we are characterizing the APEH system of two Antarctic fish species in comparison with that of a temperate fish. We are also interested in understanding how the APEH is coordinated to the proteasome complex.

Within the framework of a new PNRA project I am going to study the hypoxia and oxidative stress response in Antarctic fish by analysing the expression of genes that are regulated by the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF). The model species will be kept at different oxygen concentrations, from normoxia to extreme hypoxia, in experiments that will be carried out at the Italian Antarctic station aquarium.

I have already participated to eight Antarctic expeditions, three of which at Palmer Station (USA), four at the Italian Station “Mario Zucchelli”, one on the NB Palmer Research Vessel (USA), sailing in the Atlantic sector of the sub-Antarctic Ocean.


My investigations are in the framework of the Italian National Programme for Antarctic Research (PNRA) ( and contribute to the SCAR Programme AnT-ERA (Antarctic Thresholds - Ecosystem Resilience and Adaptation) (

Key publications

T. Capriglione, S. De Paolo, E. Cocca. Helinoto, a Helitron2 transposon from the icefish Chionodraco hamatus, contains a region with three deubiquitinase-like domains that exhibit transcriptional activity. (2014) Comp Biochem Physiol Part D Genomics Proteomics. 11, 49-58.

M. Gogliettino, A. Riccio, M. Balestrieri, E. Cocca, A. Facchiano, T. M. D’Arco, C. Tesoro, M. Rossi, G. Palmieri. A novel class of bifunctional Acylpeptide Hydrolases: potential role in the antioxidant defense systems of the Antarctic fish Trematomus bernacchii. (2014) FEBS J. 281, 401-415.

P. Bergamo, E. Cocca, R. Palumbo, M. Gogliettino, M. Rossi, G. Palmieri. RedOx Status, Proteasome and APEH: Insights into Anticancer Mechanisms of t10,c12-Conjugated Linoleic Acid Isomer on A375 Melanoma Cells. (2013) PLoS One. 2013 Nov 19;8(11):e80900.

M. Gogliettino, M. Balestrieri, E. Cocca, S. Mucerino, M. Rossi, M. Petrillo, E. Mazzella, G. Palmieri. Identification and characterisation of a novel acylpeptide hydrolase from sulfolobus solfataricus: structural and functional insights. (2012) PLoS One 7, e37921.

E. Cocca, S. De Iorio, T. Capriglione. Identification of a novel helitron transposon in the genome of Antarctic fish. (2011) Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 58, 439-446.

K. Marino, L. Boschetto, D. de Pascale, E. Cocca. Organisation of the Hb1 genes of the Antarctic skate Bathyraja eatonii: new insights into the evolution of globin genes. (2007) Gene 406 (1-2), 199-208.

G. di Prisco, E. Cocca, S. K. Parker and H. W. Detrich, III. Tracking the evolutionary loss of hemoglobin expression by the white-blooded Antarctic icefishes. (2002) Gene 295, 185-191.

Y. Zhao, M. Ratnayake-Lecamwasam, S. K. Parker, E. Cocca, L. Camardella, G. di Prisco, and H. W. Detrich III. The major adult alpha-globin gene of antarctic teleosts and its remnants in the hemoglobinless icefishes. Calibration of the mutational clock for nuclear genes. (1998) J. Biol. Chem. 273, 14745-14752.

E. Cocca, M. Ratnayake-Lecamwasam, S. K. Parker, L. Camardella, M. Ciaramella, G. di Prisco, and H. W. Detrich, III. Genomic remnants of alpha-globin genes in the hemoglobinless antarctic icefishes. (1995) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 92, 1817-1821.


Selected Publications

(full list available at CNR People)

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