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Gabriele Gusella

  • ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Medicine, Nephrology
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  • M.S., University of Pavia
    Biological Sciences

  • Laboratory of Molecular Immunoregulation, Biological Response Modifiers Program, National Cancer I

  • Ph.D., University of Pavia
    Molecular Genetics

  • AIDS Research Section, Program Resources Inc./DynCorp., National Cancer Institute
    Biological Carcinogenesis and Developmental Program



  • 2000 - 2001
    National Kidney Foundation Young Investigator Award
    National Kidney Foundation

  • 1986 - 1988
    Fogarty International Center Research Fellowship
    NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA

  • 1985 - 1986
    National Institute of Cancer Research Fellowship


Specific Clinical/Research Interest: Molecular mechanisms of renal cystogenesis

Postdoctoral Fellows: Lorenzo Battini

Current Research:
The use of lentiviral vectors for gene therapy of the kidney
The kidney is a particularly challenging organ because of its functional and cellular heterogeneity. The complex architecture of the kidney affects the ability of viral vectors to gain access to different segments of the nephron. Lentiviral vectors have the ability to infect non-proliferating, differentiated cells, typical of those found in the kidney. By integrating into the host chromosome, these vectors provide stable long-term transduction. These characteristics make lentiviral vectors ideal candidates for renal gene therapy. We were first to show that lentiviral vectors can transduce the kidney in vivo. Current work focuses on vector optimization and on the evaluation of physical and chemical factors that affect the in vivo efficiency of lentivirus transduction. We specifically apply lentiviral mediated gene transduction to the following projects:

1. Dendritic cell trafficking in the kidney and the antitumor response elicited by lentiviral transduced dendritic cells in a renal carcinoma model.

2. Analysis of polycystin-1 function, mutations in which are responsible for autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD).

The first project focuses on the study of the molecular mechanisms of cystogenesis in Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney disease (ADPKD). ADPKD is one of the most common genetic diseases caused by alterations in the PKD1(>85%) or PKD2 (<15%) genes coding for polycystin-1 and polycystin-2, respectively. The disease is characterized by the gradual formation and progressive enlargement of fluid-filled cysts, which eventually lead to renal failure. The cystogenetic process is associated with the hyperproliferation of the renal tubular cells, abnormal fluid secretion, alterations of the extracellular matrix component. Cystic epithelium reverts to an immature phenotype with loss of polarization and protein mislocalization. To date, the molecular mechanisms underlying normal and cystogenic functions of polycystin-1 remain unclear. Based on lentiviral mediated siRNA expression, we have developed a stable PC1 knockdown model that recapitulates the pathological features of ADPKD epithelia. The goal of the project is to understand how polycystin-1 controls the molecular drivers and the pathways triggering cystogenetic progression. We are particularly interested in the role of integrins as mediators of the cystogenic process and the role of polycystin-1 in the control of the cells cycle, centrosome trafficking, and genetic stability.

The second project focuses on the study of in vitro interactions of human parainfluenza viruses with dendritic cells (DCs). The immunobiology of paramyxoviruses such as RSV and parainfluenza remains poorly understood and is a subject of intense controversy. This gap in knowledge has hampered the development of safe and effective vaccines and antiviral strategies. DCs are the most efficient antigen presenting cells (APCs) in inducing CTL responses to viruses. Interference with DC functions is a mechanism evolved by viruses to disrupt host defenses and survive immunological responses. We are specifically interested in the contributions of the HN and F viral proteins to the regulation of DCs migration and immunomodulatory functions.


Battini L, Macip S, Fedorova E, Dikman S, Somlo S, Montagna C, Gusella GL. Loss of polycystin-1 causes centrosome amplification and genomic instability. Hum. Mol. Gen 2008; 17(18): 2819-2833.

Rohatgi R, Battini L, Kim P, Israeli S, Wilson PD, Gusella GL, Satlin LM. Mechanoregulation of intracellular Ca2+ in human autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD) cyst-lining renal epithelial cells. Am. J. Physiol. Renal. Physiol 2008; 294(4): F890-F899.

Li X, Burrow CR, Polgar K, Hyink DP, Gusella GL, Wilson PD. Protein kinase X (PRKX) can rescue the effects of polycystic kidney disease-1 gene (PKD1) deficiency. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 2007; 1782(1): 1-9.

Tan MC, Battini L, Tuyama AC, Macip S, Melendi GA, Horga M, Gusella GL. Characterization of human metapneumovirus infection of myeloid dendritic cells. Virology 2007; 357(1): 1-9.

Battini L, Fedorova E, Macip S, Li X, Wilson PD, Gusella GL. Knockdown of polycystin-1 by lentiviral expression of small interference RNA confers integrin-alpha2beta1-mediated anoikis resistance. J. Am. Soc. Nephr 2006; 17(11): 3049-3058.

Fedorova E, Battini L, Prakash-Cheng A, Marras D, Gusella GL. Lentiviral gene delivery to CNS by spinal intrathecal administration to neonatal mice. J. Gene Med 2006; 8(4): 414-424.

Vargas Jr J, Gusella G, Najfeld V, Klotman ME, Cara A. Novel Integrase-Defective Lentiviral Episomal Vectors for Gene Transfer. Human Gene Therapy 2004; 15(4): 361-372.

Gusella GL, Fedorova E, Marras D, Klotman PE, Klotman ME. In vivo gene transfer to kidney by lentiviral vector. Kidney Int 2002; 61(Suppl 1): 32-36.

Marras D, Bruggeman LA, Gao F, Tanji N, Mansukhani MM, Cara A, Ross MD, Gusella GL, Benson G, D'Agati VD, Hahn BH, Klotman ME, Klotman PE. Replication and Compartimentalization of HIV-1 quasispecies in kidney epithelium in HIV-1 associated nephropathy. Nat Med 2002; 8(5): 522-526.

Husain M, Gusella GL, Klotman ME, Gelman IH, Ross MD, Schwartz EJ, Cara A, Klotman PE. HIV-1 Nef induces proliferation and anchorage independent growth in podocytes. J Am Soc Nephr 2002; 3: 1806-1815.

Industry Relationships

Physicians and scientists on the faculty of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai often interact with pharmaceutical, device and biotechnology companies to improve patient care, develop new therapies and achieve scientific breakthroughs. In order to promote an ethical and transparent environment for conducting research, providing clinical care and teaching, Mount Sinai requires that salaried faculty inform the School of their relationships with such companies.

Dr. Gusella did not report having any of the following types of financial relationships with industry during 2013 and/or 2014: consulting, scientific advisory board, industry-sponsored lectures, service on Board of Directors, participation on industry-sponsored committees, equity ownership valued at greater than 5% of a publicly traded company or any value in a privately held company. Please note that this information may differ from information posted on corporate sites due to timing or classification differences.

Mount Sinai's faculty policies relating to faculty collaboration with industry are posted on our website at Patients may wish to ask their physician about the activities they perform for companies.

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