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An institute

affiliated to USI


Functional Cancer Genomics

Group Leader: Theurillat Jean-Philippe, MD

Cancer is driven by cardinal genetic alterations that activate driver genes. Driver mutations are not only essential to initiate tumorigenesis, but are also required for tumor growth and maintenance. This raises the possibility to target these mutations, opening more specific, therapeutic opportunities to treat cancer patients.

Our research group focuses on new drivers of prostate cancer with emphasis on advanced, castration-resistant disease. We aim to explore the roles of these genes in tumorigenesis with the ultimate goal to develop new therapeutic avenues for patients suffering from prostate cancer.

In addition, our group develops new strategies to empirically tailor cancer therapy in the clinic. Patient-derived tumor cells will be used to test drug responses prior treating the patient. This approach may guide decision-making in the clinic in an individualized manner.


Bolis Marco, Senior Investigator
Bossi Daniela, PostDoc
Bressan Silvia, PhD Student
Ceserani Valentina, Lab Technician
Costanzo Federico, Research Associate
Formaggio Nicolò, PhD Student
Lorenzi Claudio, Bioinformatician
Theurillat Jean-Philippe, Group leader
Uebelhart Yanick, Visiting Student (Master)
Vallerga Arianna, PhD Student

Current projects

  • Molecular characterization of prostate cancer progression pathways
  • Functional characterization of new prostate cancer drivers implicated in chromatin remodeling and disease progression
  • Engineering of small molecules against prostate cancer targets
  • Generation and engineering of patient-derived prostate cancer models

Relevant Publications

  • Bolis M, Bossi D, Vallerga A, Ceserani V, Cavalli M, Rito Ld, Zoni E, Mosole S, Rinaldi A, Mestre RP, D'Antonio E, Ferrari M, Stoffel F, Jermini F, Sommer SG, Bubendorf L, Schraml P, Moch H, Spahn M, Thalmann G, Julio MK, Rubin M, Theurillat JP. Dynamic prostate cancer transcriptome analysis delineates the trajectory to disease progression. Nat Commun (2021) accepted for publication (NCOMMS-21-08764)
  • Canale FP, Basso C, Antonini G, Perotti M, Li N, Sokolovska A, Neumann J, James MJ, Geiger S, Jin W, Theurillat JP, West KA, Leventhal DS, Lora JM, Sallusto F and Geiger R. Metabolic modulation of tumours with engineered bacteria for immunotherapy. Nature (2021) 598, 662-666.
  • Bernasocchi T, El Tekle G, Bolis M, Mutti A, Vallerga A, Brandt LP, Spriano F, Svinkina T, Zoma M, Ceserani V, Rinaldi A, Janouskova H, Bossi D, Cavalli M, Mosole S, Geiger R, Dong Z, Yang CG, Albino D, Rinaldi A, Schraml P, Linder S, Carbone GM, Alimonti A, Bertoni F, Moch H, Carr SA, Zwart W, Kruithof-de Julio M, Rubin MA, Udeshi ND and Theurillat JP. Dual functions of SPOP and ERG dictate androgen therapy responses in prostate cancer. Nat Commun (2021) 12, 734.
  • Formaggio N, Rubin MA and Theurillat JP. Loss and revival of androgen receptor signaling in advanced prostate cancer. Oncogene (2021) 40, 1205-1216.
  • El Tekle G, Bernasocchi T, Unni AM, Bertoni F, Rossi D, Rubin MA and Theurillat JP. Co-occurrence and mutual exclusivity: what cross-cancer mutation patterns can tell us. Trends Cancer (2021).
  • Karkampouna S, La Manna F, Benjak A, Kiener M, De Menna M, Zoni E, Grosjean J, Klima I, Garofoli A, Bolis M, Vallerga A, Theurillat JP, De Filippo MR, Genitsch V, Keller D, Booij TH, Stirnimann CU, Eng K, Sboner A, Ng CKY, Piscuoglio S, Gray PC, Spahn M, Rubin MA, Thalmann GN and Kruithof-de Julio M. Patient-derived xenografts and organoids model therapy response in prostate cancer. Nat Commun (2021) 12, 1117.
  • Nabais Sa MJ, El Tekle G, de Brouwer APM, Sawyer SL, Del Gaudio D, Parker MJ, Kanani F, van den Boogaard MH, van Gassen K, Van Allen MI, Wierenga K, Purcarin G, Elias ER, Begtrup A, Keller-Ramey J, Bernasocchi T, van de Wiel L, Gilissen C, Venselaar H, Pfundt R, Vissers L, Theurillat JP and de Vries BBA. De Novo Variants in SPOP Cause Two Clinically Distinct Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Am J Hum Genet (2020) 106, 405-411.
  • Janouskova H, El Tekle G, Bellini E, Udeshi ND, Rinaldi A, Ulbricht A, Bernasocchi T, Civenni G, Losa M, Svinkina T, Bielski CM, Kryukov GV, Cascione L, Napoli S, Enchev RI, Mutch DG, Carney ME, Berchuck A, Winterhoff BJN, Broaddus RR, Schraml P, Moch H, Bertoni F, Catapano CV, Peter M, Carr SA, Garraway LA, Wild PJ and Theurillat JP. Opposing effects of cancer-type-specific SPOP mutants on BET protein degradation and sensitivity to BET inhibitors. Nat Med (2017) 23, 1046-1054.
  • Groner AC, Brown M and Theurillat JP. Targeting transcriptional co-activators in advanced prostate cancer. Cell Cycle (2016) 15, 3333-3334.
  • Groner AC, Cato L, de Tribolet-Hardy J, Bernasocchi T, Janouskova H, Melchers D, Houtman R, Cato ACB, Tschopp P, Gu L, Corsinotti A, Zhong Q, Fankhauser C, Fritz C, Poyet C, Wagner U, Guo T, Aebersold R, Garraway LA, Wild PJ, Theurillat JP and Brown M. TRIM24 Is an Oncogenic Transcriptional Activator in Prostate Cancer. Cancer Cell (2016) 29, 846-858.

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