Silvia Sberna

PhD Student
PhD student

Research Lines

Genomic Science





2018-2022: PhD in Systems Medicine, curriculum of Molecular Oncology, at the European School of Molecular Medicine (SEMM), Milan, Italy.

2015-2018: Master degree in Biology (110/110 cum laude), Università degli studi di Milano-Bicocca, Italy.

2012-2015: Bachelor degree in Biological Sciences (110/110 cum laude), Università degli studi di Catania, Italy.

2007-2012: Secondary school diploma (100/100), Liceo scientifico Archimede in Acireale, Italy.


Research experiences:

October 2018-to present: Ph.D. Student in Stefano Campaner’s group, at the Centre for Genomic Science of “Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia” (IIT), Milan,Italy 

          Research Topic: Characterization of novel YAP/TAZ regulators


April 2018-September 2018: Fellow in Stefano Campaner’s group, at the Centre for Genomic Science of “Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia” (IIT) in Milan.

          Research Topic: Investigate the molecular mechanism of YAP-dependent in vitro reprograming in primary MECs


November 2016-March2018: Master thesis internship at the Centre for Genomic Science of “ Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia” (IIT) in Milan, Italy.

          Research Topic: Identification of the molecular mechanisms regulating the mainteinance of the differentiated state of adults hepatocytes


March 2015-September 2015: Bachelor thesis internship at the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Biology of the Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Science, Università degli studi di Catania, Italy.

          Research Topic: Site-specific mutagenesis of two codons encoding for the amino acids Ser60 and Ser99 of human superoxide dismutase 1


March 2014-June 2014: Erasmus placement internship at the Laboratory of Microbiology at the Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra, under the supervisor of Professor Miroslava Kacaniova.


Characterization of novel YAP/TAZ regulators

TAZ, as well as its paralogue YAP, are transcriptional co-activators, initially identified in Drosophila as the downstream effectors of the Hippo signaling pathway. Later, they were recognized as important mechanical sensors, which integrate environmental signals to regulate proliferation, differentiation, pluripotency, organ size, tissue homeostasis and regeneration. The Hippo pathway negatively regulates YAP/TAZ activity through phosphorylation, modifying both their cellular localization and stability. Coherently with its role, Hippo is a tumor suppressor pathway, while YAP/TAZ are driver oncogenes, frequently activated in several human malignancies.

In particular, YAP/TAZ controls tumor dissemination, pluripotent mesenchymal-like features and chemoresistance in basal-like breast tumors. Nevertheless, mutations of either YAP/TAZ or of Hippo pathway components are extremely rare, suggesting that YAP/TAZ aberrant activation may result from oncogenic alterations of unknown upstream regulators. For this reason, it is necessary to study in depth the pathways that crosstalk with YAP/TAZ, in order to identify genes and mechanisms responsible for their deregulation in cancer cells.

The aim of the project is to unveil upstream regulators of YAP/TAZ in breast tissue and to investigate, on one hand, how they may exert an onco-suppressive role in a physiological context and, on the other hand, how their de-regulation may lead to a YAP/TAZ-dependent tumorigenic phenotype.

IIT Publications

  • 2017
  • Croci O.iit, De Fazio S.iit, Biagioni F.iit, Donato E.iit, Caganova M.iit, Curti L.iit, Doni M., Sberna S.iit, Aldeghi D.iit, Biancotto C.iit, Verrecchia A., Olivero D., Amati B.iit, Campaner S.iit

    Transcriptional integration of mitogenic and mechanical signals by Myc and YAP

    Genes and Development, vol. 31, (no. 20), pp. 2017-2022