Photo of Claudio Cantù

Claudio Cantù


Docent in Molecular and Developmental Biology. 
Group Leader at the Wallenberg Centre For Molecular Medicine (WCMM).

Genome Regulation in Development and Disease

We study how cells regulate their genomes, and how this leads to the formation of distinct cell types and organs during embryonic development.

IMAGINE living in a house with 10 rooms, but 9 of them are closed: you do not even know what's in there! Shouldn’t one do everything possible to find the keys to open these unexplored rooms? Of course one should, as the place where we live largely defines the quality of our lives.
One might think that no one lives this situation. Yet, in a sense, we all do. Our genome, even more than our home, defines who we are: it determines our appearance, our cognition, what we like, how we perceive experiences, the disease to which we are susceptible and possibly how to prevent or cure them. Yet, science so far only understood the function of less than 10% of the genome's content. In other words, 9 out of its 10 doors are closed! Shouldn’t we do all in our power to find the keys for these immensely important, hidden spaces of biological information? I believe that we should, and my research is an attempted leap forward this direction.

RATIONALE: At the moment of our conception we were a single cell. At birth, after a few months of embryonic development, we possess a complex body composed of many trillion cells (a number that looks like this 10,000,000,000,000) each of one is highly specialized to a key duty: transmitting electrical impulses (neurons in the brain), contracting to move body parts, walk and interact with the environment (muscle cells), transporting oxygen (red blood cells), and many others. All the cells within a single organism, with very rare exceptions, possess the same genetic material.

QUESTION: How could a single “instruction manual” – The Genome – impose different identities to each cell?

Understanding this is important: first, because embryonic development and cell differentiation are such spectacularly cool phenomena. Second, several human pathological conditions arise when genomic mechanisms are perturbed.


People drinking coffee.

Beans to genes: WCMM study on coffee and heart health

With 2.25 billion daily consumers worldwide, coffee is a ubiquitous behavioural stimulant. However, coffee's clinical impact on cardiovascular health remains uncertain. Supported by WCMM, researchers will now explore coffee's impact on heart health.

Two men in a laboratory.

Discovery reveals how cells respond to each other

The same message can be interpreted differently by different individuals – also among cells. This is shown in a study by researchers at Linköping University who studied cell communication.

Image from NMMP Summer School 2022.

Four days of science in beautiful scenery

At the end of June, the NMMP Summer School in Transcriptomics during Development and Cancer was arranged for the first time. Around 60 participants enjoyed scientific lectures, inspiring networking, and stunning scenery.


Publications in DiVA


Valentina Pastori, Gianluca Zambanini, Elisabetta Citterio, Tamina Weiss, Yukio Nakamura, Claudio Cantù, Antonella Ellena Ronchi (2024) Transcriptional repression of the oncofetal LIN28B gene by the transcription factor SOX6 Scientific Reports, Vol. 14, Article 10287 Continue to DOI
Anna Nordin, Pierfrancesco Pagella, Gianluca Zambanini, Claudio Cantù (2024) Exhaustive identification of genome-wide binding events of transcriptional regulators Nucleic Acids Research Continue to DOI
Giulia Pizzolato, Lavanya Moparthi, Pierfrancesco Pagella, Claudio Cantù, Padraig D´arcy, Stefan Koch (2024) The tumour suppressor p53 is a negative regulator of the carcinoma-associated transcription factor FOXQ1 Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol. 300, Article 107126 Continue to DOI


Pierfrancesco Pagella, Simon Söderholm, Anna Nordin, Gianluca Zambanini, Valeria Ghezzi, Amaia Jauregi Miguel, Claudio Cantù (2023) The time-resolved genomic impact of Wnt/(3-catenin signaling CELL SYSTEMS, Vol. 14, p. 563-581.e7 Continue to DOI
Anna Nordin, Gianluca Zambanini, Pierfrancesco Pagella, Claudio Cantù (2023) The CUT & RUN suspect list of problematic regions of the genome Genome Biology, Vol. 24, Article 185 Continue to DOI

About me


  • 2024: Full Professor in Cell and Molecular Biology with Focus on Developmental Biology
  • 2022: Senior Associate Professor in Cell and Molecular Biology with Focus on Developmental Biology
  • 2020: Associate Professor in Cell and Developmental Biology, Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences (BKV), Linköping University
  • 2018 – now: Group Leader at the Wallenberg Centre for Molecular Medicine (WCMM), and Assistant Professor at the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine (IKE) Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University
  • 2016 - 2018: Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Molecular Life Science (IMLS), University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2011 - 2016: Postdoc researcher at the Institute of Molecular Life Science (IMLS), University of Zurich
  • 2009 - 2010: Research Associate, Department of Biotechnology and Biosciences, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy
  • 2007: Visiting PhD student, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, Molecular Hematology Unit, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK
  • 2006 - 2009: PhD in Translational and Molecular Medicine (DIMET –, University of Milano-Bicocca
  • 2006: Master’s Degree in Molecular Biology, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy



Board member of the Swedish Development Biology Organization (SWEDBO)

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