Marco Fioani#

Short laudatio by Tomas Lindahl#

Marco Fioani's research interest is focused on eukaryotic chromosome dynamics. In particular, he studies the mechanisms of DNA replication and recombination and the regulatory pathways that control genome integrity.

Main achievements in chronological order:

i) The elucidation of the checkpoint-mediated mechanisms controlling the integrity of stalled replication forks (Lopes et al., Nature 2001; Sogo et al., Science 2002). This work was the first demonstration that the ATR-dependent checkpoint directly acts at replication forks preventing the formation of abnormal recombinogenic structures when replication is pausing. This work has important implications for fragile sites that are expressed in ATR-deficient cells.

ii) The finding that the cyclin dependent kinase CDKI controls double strand break processing and checkpoint activation (Ira et al., Nature, 2004). The observation that CDK1 was directly involved in controlling the DNA damage response had an impact in the field as, up to then, the current view was that the cell cycle engine was inhibited by the DNA damage response.

iii) The characterization of the sumoylation-dependent processes that assist replication forks encountering a damaged template (Liberi et al. Genes & Dev.2005; Branzei et al., Cell, 2006; Branzei et al., Nature, 2008). First physical evidence implicating sumoylation events at damaged replication forks to promote replication by template switch. The observations have relevant implications for genetic disorders such as the Bloom syndrome.

iv) The finding that DNA topoisomerase ll organizes the topological context of transcription units specifically during S phase (Bermejo et al. Genes and Dev. 2007; Bermejo et al. Cell, 2009). These recent findings show that transcription units represent replication pausing elements and have important implications for fragile site expression.

v) The finding that the ATM/Tell-dependent processes prevent abnormal transitions at terminal replication forks (Doksani et al. Cell, 2009). First demonstration that ATM controls the integrity of replication forks that reach a chromosomal end.

Important implications also for the telomere field and particularly for shortened telomeres arising in ageing cells.

He is routinely invited at international conferences on DNA replication, recombination and chromosome dynamics and he has organized several conferences on the same topics.

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