Born and educated in Florence, Italy, Prof. Citi has over 30 years of experience in biochemistry and cell biology, and holds a bachelor Degree in Biological Sciences (1982, Magna cum Laude. Thesis: Studi comparativi su isoenzimi di acilfosfatasi di muscolo. Comparative studies on muscle acylphosphatase isoenzymes. Dept. Biochemistry) and a Doctorate in Medicine & Surgery (1989, Magna cum Laude. Thesis: La localizzazione della cingolina, una proteina specifica della zonula occludens, in tessuti umani normali e nelle neoplasie del colon. The localization of cingulin, a specific protein of the zonula occludens, in normal human tissues and in colon neoplasias. Dept. Pathology) from the University of Florence.
While carrying out her PhD in the Structural Studies Division of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK (1986: Immunological and biochemical studies on the structure and function of brush border myosin. Advisor: Dr. John Kendrick-Jones), she discovered cingulin. During her postdoctoral work at the Weizmann Institute of Science (Rehovot, Israel)(1987, funded by an EMBO Fellowship, advisor Dr. Benjamin Geiger), she localized cingulin on the cytoplasmic face of tight junctions. Her subsequent work has focused on the organization and function of cell-cell junctions and their protein components and their interaction with the cytoskeleton, using biochemical, cellular and molecular approaches (see “Research”).
Prior to her arrival at the University of Geneva in 1996, Prof. Citi was a Professor and independent Group leader at Cornell University Medical College (New York, USA), and at the University of Padova (Italy).
During her graduate and postdoctoral studies, Prof. Citi received several Fellowships and Prizes. In 2004-2005, she was a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University.
Prof. Citi has published >80 original research articles and >20 review articles in international peer-reviewed journals, has edited a book and written several book chapters. Her publications have been cited >7000 times in the scientific literature, with an H-index of 50 (Google Scholar) and a RG score >46.
Prof. Citi is serving on the editorial board and as an ad-hoc reviewer for scientific journals and granting agencies.
The teaching activities of Prof. Citi include courses in cell and tissue biology at the undergraduate, master and PhD level, and guiding the research of postdoctoral fellows, PhD, master and bachelor students.
Epithelial tissues line all body surfaces and cavities and play a fundamental role in absorption, secretion, exchange, and protection from pathogens. Epithelial cells are held together by cell-cell junctions, that are important for tissue integrity (adherens junctions) and to provide a paracellular barrier for ions, molecules and pathogens across epithelial sheets (tight junctions). I will review work from our laboratory showing how the major scaffolding protein of tight junctions, ZO-1, is affected in its conformation and accumulation at junctions by force generated by the actomyosin cytoskeleton, impacting on cell behavior and homeostasis. The mechanoregulation of ZO-1 depends on its interaction with cingulin, which tethers ZO-1 to the actomyosin cytoskeleton and regulates the mechanical properties of the apicolateral plasma membrane.