Staff member

Annalisa Calò
Staff member publications

Deborde, Sylvie, Gusain, Laxmi, Powers, Ann, Marcadis, Andrea, Yu, Yasong, Chen, Chun-Hao, Frants, Anna, Kao, Elizabeth, Tang, Laura H., Vakiani, Efsevia, Amisaki, Masataka, Balachandran, Vinod P., Calo, Annalisa, Omelchenko, Tatiana, Jessen, Kristjan R., Reva, Boris, Wong, Richard J., (2022). Reprogrammed Schwann cells organize into dynamic tracks that promote pancreatic cancer invasion Cancer Discovery 12, 2454-2473

Abstract Nerves are a component of the tumor microenvironment contributing to cancer progression, but the role of cells from nerves in facilitating cancer invasion remains poorly understood. Here we show that Schwann cells (SCs) activated by cancer cells collectively function as Tumor Activated Schwann cell Tracks (TASTs) that promote cancer cell migration and invasion. Non-myelinating SCs form TASTs and have cell gene expression signatures that correlate with diminished survival in patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. In TASTs, dynamic SCs form tracks that serve as cancer pathways and apply forces on cancer cells to enhance cancer motility. These SCs are activated by c-Jun, analogous to their reprogramming during nerve repair. This study reveals a mechanism of cancer cell invasion that co-opts a wound repair process and exploits the ability of SCs to collectively organize into tracks. These findings establish a novel paradigm of how cancer cells spread and reveal therapeutic opportunities.


Sanmartí-Espinal, Marta, Iavicoli, Patrizia, Calò, Annalisa, Taulés, Marta, Galve, Roger, Marco, M. Pilar, Samitier, Josep, (2017). Quantification of interacting cognate odorants with olfactory receptors in nanovesicles Scientific Reports 7, (1), 17483

This study aims to improve our understanding of the interaction between olfactory receptors and odorants to develop highly selective biosensing devices. Natural nanovesicles (NVs) from Saccharomyces cerevisiae, ~100 nm in diameter, carrying either the human OR17-40 or the chimpanzee OR7D4 olfactory receptor (OR) tagged with the c-myc epitope at their N-terminus, are presented as model systems to quantify the interaction between odorant and olfactory receptors. The level of expression of olfactory receptors was determined at individual NVs using a novel competitive ELISA immunoassay comparing the values obtained against those from techniques involving the solubilization of cell membrane proteins and the identification of c-myc-carrying receptors. Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) measurements on L1 Biacore chips indicate that cognate odorants bind to their Ors, thereby quantifying the approximate number of odorants that interact with a given olfactory receptor. The selectivity of OR17-40-carrying NVs towards helional and OR7D4-carrying NVs towards androstenone has been proven in cross-check experiments with non-specific odorant molecules (heptanal and pentadecalactone, respectively) and in control receptors.


Dols-Perez, Aurora, Gramse, Georg, Calo, Annalisa, Gomila, Gabriel, Fumagalli, Laura, (2015). Nanoscale electric polarizability of ultrathin biolayers on insulator substrates by electrostatic force microscopy Nanoscale 7, 18327-18336

We measured and quantified the local electric polarization properties of ultrathin (~ 5 nm) biolayers on mm-thick mica substrates. We achieved it by scanning a sharp conductive tip (< 10 nm radius) of an electrostatic force microscope over the biolayers and quantifying sub-picoNewton electric polarization forces with a sharp-tip model implemented using finite-element numerical calculations. We obtained relative dielectric constants ?r = 3.3, 2.4 and 1.9 for bacteriorhodopsin, dioleoylphosphatidylcholine (DOPC) and cholesterol layers, chosen as representative of the main cell membrane components, with an error below 10% and a spatial resolution down to ~ 50 nm. The ability of using insulating substrates common in biophysics research, such as mica or glass, instead of metallic substrates, offers both a general platform to determine the dielectric properties of biolayers and a wider compatibility with other characterization techniques, such as optical microscopy. This opens up new possibilities for biolayer research at the nanoscale, including nanoscale label-free composition mapping.


Caló, A., Reguera, D., Oncins, G., Persuy, M. A., Sanz, G., Lobasso, S., Corcelli, A., Pajot-Augy, E., Gomila, G., (2014). Force measurements on natural membrane nanovesicles reveal a composition-independent, high Young's modulus Nanoscale 6, (4), 2275-2285

Mechanical properties of nano-sized vesicles made up of natural membranes are crucial to the development of stable, biocompatible nanocontainers with enhanced functional, recognition and sensing capabilities. Here we measure and compare the mechanical properties of plasma and inner membrane nanovesicles ∼80 nm in diameter obtained from disrupted yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells. We provide evidence of a highly deformable behaviour for these vesicles, able to support repeated wall-to-wall compressions without irreversible deformations, accompanied by a noticeably high Young's modulus (∼300 MPa) compared to that obtained for reconstituted artificial liposomes of similar size and approaching that of some virus particles. Surprisingly enough, the results are approximately similar for plasma and inner membrane nanovesicles, in spite of their different lipid compositions, especially on what concerns the ergosterol content. These results point towards an important structural role of membrane proteins in the mechanical response of natural membrane vesicles and open the perspective to their potential use as robust nanocontainers for bioapplications.


Calò, A., Sanmartí-Espinal, M., Iavicoli, P., Persuy, M. A., Pajot-Augy, E., Gomila, G., Samitier, J., (2012). Diffusion-controlled deposition of natural nanovesicles containing G-protein coupled receptors for biosensing platforms Soft Matter 8, (46), 11632-11643

Natural vesicles produced from genetically engineered cells with tailored membrane receptor composition are promising building blocks for sensing biodevices. This is particularly true for the case of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) present in many sensing processes in cells, whose functionality crucially depends on their lipid environment. However, the controlled production of natural vesicles containing GPCRs and their reproducible deposition on biosensor surfaces are among the outstanding challenges in the road map to realize practical biomolecular devices based on GPCRs. In this work we present the production and characterization of membrane nanovesicles from Saccharomyces cerevisiae containing heterologously expressed olfactory receptors - a member of the family of GPCRs - and study their deposition onto substrates used as biosensor supports. We show by direct observation with Atomic Force Microscopy that nanovesicles deposit and flatten without rupturing on glass substrates following approximately a diffusive law. We show that surface coverages larger than 20-25% of the substrate can be reproducibly achieved under practical nanovesicle concentrations and reasonable time scales, while keeping to the minimum the presence of background residuals coming from the nanovesicles production process. Surface chemistry modification of gold substrates indicates a higher affinity of natural nanovesicles for acid modified surfaces as compared to amino or alcohol modified surfaces. Present results constitute an important step in the practical realization of biosensor devices based on natural nanovesicles integrating G-protein coupled membrane receptors.