Photo of Claudio Cantù

Claudio Cantù

Senior Associate Professor

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

Genome Regulation during Vertebrate Development

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

At the moment of our conception we were a single cell. At birth, however, we possess a complex multicellular body composed of many trillion cells (a number that looks like this

Each one of these cells must execute a different task: transmitting the electrical impulses (neurons in the brain), contracting (muscle and pumping heart cells), transporting oxygen (red blood cells), and many others. But all the cells within a single organism, with very rare exceptions, possess the same genetic material. How could a single “instruction manual” impose a different identity to each cell?

Cells communicate by exchanging signalling molecules to inform each other about their position. When a signal is received from a cell, it culminates - after complicated biochemical cascades - in the activation of specific combinations of genes, causing that cell to acquire a distinct identity and function.

However, a relatively small number of signalling cascades is known. How could they drive the wide-range of differentiation fates existing in an adult body?

Understanding this is important, as several human pathological conditions arise when these mechanisms are perturbed. The discovery of novel molecular details of embryonic development bears the potential of generating new diagnostic markers and, perhaps in the future, novel therapeutic avenues for curing cancer and other pathological conditions.

We make use of sophisticated state-of-the-art tools, from mouse genetics to high-throughput biochemical approaches, to discover the composition of signals and the protein “arsenal” that, in each cell type, allows the activation of the correct genes, while leaving silent many others.

Our experimental efforts are focused on the so-called ‘Wnt signalling pathway’, a molecular cascade important for virtually all aspects of development, and whose deregulation causes human malformations and several forms of aggressive cancer.


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.

Male researcher in university surrounding.

Claudio is searching for the keys to the genome

Growing up just outside of Milan, Claudio Cantù enjoyed a strong passion for sharks and dinosaurs. The fascination for the wonders of nature eventually led him into the world of science - where he is looking for keys to unlock doors to the genome.


Publications in DiVA


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
Toshiyasu Suzuki, Anna Kilbey, Nuria Casa-Rodriguez, Amy Lawlor, Anastasia Georgakopoulou, Hannah Hayman, Kyi Lai Yin Swe, Anna Nordin, Claudio Cantù, Pierre Vantourout, Rachel A. Ridgway, Ryan M. Byrne, Lei Chen, Michael P. Verzi, David M. Gay, Ester Gil Vazquez, Hayley L. Belnoue-Davis, Kathryn Gilroy, Anne Helene Kostner, Christian Kersten, Chanitra Thuwajit, Ditte K. Andersen, Robert Wiesheu, Anett Jandke, Karen Blyth, Antonia K. Roseweir, Simon J. Leedham, Philip D. Dunne, Joanne Edwards, Adrian Hayday, Owen J. Sansom, Seth B. Coffelt (2023) b-Catenin Drives Butyrophilin-like Molecule Loss and gd T-cell Exclusion in Colon Cancer CANCER IMMUNOLOGY RESEARCH, Vol. 11, p. 1137-1155 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
Simon Söderholm, Amaia Jauregi Miguel, Pierfrancesco Pagella, Valeria Ghezzi, Gianluca Zambanini, Anna Nordin, Claudio Cantù (2023) Single-cell response to Wnt signaling activation reveals uncoupling of Wnt target gene expression Experimental Cell Research, Vol. 429, Article 113646 Continue to DOI
Lovisa Örkenby, Signe Skog, Helen Ekman, Alessandro Gozzo, Unn Örtegren Kugelberg, Rashmi Ramesh, Srivathsa Magadi, Gianluca Zambanini, Anna Nordin, Claudio Cantù, Daniel Nätt, Anita Öst (2023) Stress-sensitive dynamics of miRNAs and Elba1 in Drosophila embryogenesis Molecular Systems Biology, Vol. 19, Article e11148 Continue to DOI

About me


  • 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)

SWEDBO homepage



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