National Research Council of Italy

Institute of Biosciences and BioResources

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Mariarosaria De Falco

Role: Researcher
Section: Researchers and Technologists
Division: Naples
Tel: (39) 081-6132550-081-6132281

Dr Mariarosaria De Falco has been working since her graduation on the enzymology of DNA. Her main research interests have been in molecular mechanisms of DNA replication and recombinational repair in Archaea, the third domain of life. She also devoted her interest to specialized human enzymes. The maintenance of genomic stability is critical for the normal growth and development of any living organism. Indeed, genomic stability can be defined as the ability of a cell to pass its genetic information to the progeny, without either loss or duplication of genome sequences. To maintain genome integrity, cells have developed a highly orchestrated process to ensure accurate inheritance of genetic information from one generation to the next and a single duplication of the entire genome during each round of cell division. Moreover, DNA is a chemical entity subject to assault from the environment, and any resulting damage, if not repaired, leads to mutation and possibly disease. DNA is also subject to oxidative damage from products of metabolism, such as free radicals. DNA repair processes exist in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms, and many of the proteins involved have been highly conserved throughout evolution. In fact, cells have evolved a number of mechanisms to detect and repair the various types of damage that can occur to DNA, no matter whether this damage is caused by the environment or by errors in replication. The study of these mechanisms in hyperthermophilic Archaea can be very useful because they arguably have a great need for efficient DNA repair. Moreover, DNA replication/repair proteins from Archaea have been considered a good experimental model, due to their simpler subunit composition and ease of purification, coupled to their functional and structural similarity with the eukaryotic homologs.

Dr. De Falco’s laboratory welcomes and hosts undergraduate Research students for Master’s Degree theses for the following research lines:

-Study of DNA repair and replication mechanisms in model systems such as the extremophiles S. solfataricus and D. radiodurans: cloning, expression, purification, and characterization of the enzymes involved in these processes (nucleases, helicases, polymerases...) with the aim of deepening knowledge of DNA metabolism and the effects of damage caused by carcinogenic agents.
-Design of isothermal amplification systems based on the use of replicative enzymes with the aim of creating devices for the rapid diagnosis (point-of-care, POC) of infections caused by microorganisms.

To inquire about opportunities, contact Dr. De Falco at


Selected Publications

(full list available at CNR People)

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