Magro / Piccinini

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Giada Magro graduated in Veterinary Biotechnology Science Master’s Degree at the University of Milano in july 2014 with the evaluation of 110/110 with honors. She is author of the thesis “In vitro evaluation of mammary epithelial cells immune response to bacteriocins”. Her main interest field is molecular microbiology in the study of the pathogenesis of bovine infectious diseases. Her work is now focused on the proteases of Staphylococcus aureus strains, in order to investigate their role in the mastitis of dairy cow.


Renata Piccinini is associate professor of Infectious Diseases (degree in Veterinary Biotechnologies) at the Department of Veterinary Sciences and Public Health of the University of Milan. From 2008 to 2010 she was responsible of Diagnostic Laboratory of Mastitis, at the Central Laboratory of veterinary hospital in Lodi. Her research interests are mainly focused on the study of virulence factors of Staph. aureus and on the pathogenesis and control of bovine mastitis. She published 60 peer reviewed articles on international journals with impact factor (indexed in PubMed).

Research project

Molecular characteristics and genic expression of Staphylococcus aureus strains from dairy cow subclinical mastitis: role of virulence genes in the pathogenesis of mammary infections.

S. aureus is a versatile pathogen able to produce a wide range of virulence factors.


The regulatory gene, agr (accessory gene regulator) and sar (staphylococcal accessory regulator) broadly control the modulation of virulence determinant expression and synthesis. Proteases are considered important virulence factors because they can cleave and degrade numerous important host proteins. In particular, S. aureus secretes four major proteolytic enzymes: a metalloprotease or aureolysin, a serine glutamyl endopeptidase or serine protease, two cysteine proteases referred to as staphopain A and staphopain B, and six serine-like proteases that are serine protease homologues.


Aim of the project is to investigate the role of these virulence factors in the pathogenesis of dairy cow mastitis. S. aureus strains from bovine mammary infection will be characterized for presence/absence of gene coding for the different proteases and for agr and sarA. Thereafter, mutagenesis will be applied on selected strains, either on the single protease genes, or inactivating the regulatory genes, in order to understand the role of proteases in mastitis.



Finally, the immune response of an in vitro model to the infection with the selected bacterial strains (wild-type) and the mutant strains, will be investigated. An established mammary epithelial cell line (BME-UV1) and a primary bovine epithelial cell culture will be used. As response variables, the release of NAGase, Lysozyme and β-defensins and pro-inflammatory cytokine profile will be considered.