Mattia Lorenzo Di Francesco

Post Doc
Post Doc

Research Lines



CBA Centro Biotecnologie Avanzate, Padiglione IST-Nord Torre D1, Lab IIT, Largo Rosanna Benzi 10, 16132 Genova


  • Presently I am working at the Italian Institute of Technology, where I am involved in several projects whose aim is the development of new technologies for the design and amelioration of retinal prostheses. Within the European Flagship of Graphene, I am studying the possibility to insert Graphene as a component of photoactive implantable devices, in order to increase light-transduction efficiency.
  • At the Institute of Neurosciences in Montpellier (INM) I characterized the electrophysiological function of Retinal-Pigment-Epithelium cells reprogrammed from human-patient-derived iPS cells. I recorded with the Patch-Clamp technique the activity of subfamilies of expressed ion channels such as L-Type Calcium channels, Calcium-activated BK Potassium channels, and Voltage-dependent CLC-2 Chloride channels.
  • At the Institute of Functional Genomics (IGF) in Montpellier I characterized the physiological properties of cardiac pacemaker-like cells differentiated from skeletal muscle-derived stem cells (skMDPM cells). With this aim, I mainly used Patch-Clamp whole-cell recordings, live Confocal-microscope line-scan measurements, and Edge-detection.
  • During my PhD period, I acquired knowledge on electrophysiological and biomolecular techniques that I used for biophysical characterization of gating mechanisms in viral ion channels such as PBCV-1 Kcv, Influenza-A PB1-F2 and Influenza-A M2. With this purpose, I performed Single-ion channel recordings and Macro-current measurements on Xenopous laevis oocytes and artificial membrane bilayers.

Selected Publications

  • A membrane-targeted photoswitch potently modulates neuronal firing.

DiFrancesco ML*, Lodola F*, Colombo E*, Maragliano L, Bramini M, Paternò GM, Baldelli P, Dalla Serra M, Lunelli L, Marchioretto M, Grasselli G, Cimò S, Colella L, Fazzi D, Vurro V, Eleftheriou CG, Shmal D, Maya-Vetencourt JF, Bertarelli C*, Lanzani G*, Benfenati F*. Nature Nanotechnology, under revision. *equal contribution.


  • Interfacing Graphene-Based Materials with Neural Cells.

Bramini M, Alberini G, Colombo E, Chiacchiaretta M, DiFrancesco ML, Maya-Vetencourt JF, Maragliano L, Benfenati F, Cesca F. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 2018. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2018.00012.


  • Engineering a Ca++-sensitive (bio) sensor from the pore-module of a potassium channel.

DiFrancesco ML, Gazzarrini S, Arrigoni C, Romani G, Thiel G, Moroni A. Sensors 2015, 15, 4913-4924. doi: 10.3390/s150304913.


  • Effect of Cytosolic pH on Inward Currents Reveals Structural Characteristics of the Proton Transport Cycle in the Influenza A Protein M2 in Cell-Free Membrane Patches of Xenopus oocytes.

DiFrancesco ML, Hansen U-P, Thiel G, Moroni A, Schroeder I. PLoS One 2014 9(9): e107406. doi:10.1371/journal.pone. 0107406.


  • Fast and slow gating are inherent properties of the pore module of the K+ channel Kcv.

Abenavoli A, DiFrancesco ML*, Schroeder I, Epimashko S, Gazzarrini S, Hansen UP, Thiel G, and Moroni A. Journal of General Physiology 2009 (Vol. 134 N° 3: 219-229). * Abenavoli A and DiFrancesco ML contributed equally to this work.

IIT Publications

  • 2018
  • Bramini M.iit, Alberini G.iit, Colombo E.iit, Chiacchiaretta M.iit, DiFrancesco M.L.iit, Maya-Vetencourt J.F.iit, Maragliano L.iit, Benfenati F.iit, Cesca F.iit

    Interfacing Graphene-Based Materials With Neural Cells

    Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, vol. 12
  • 2015
  • DiFrancesco M.L., Gazzarrini S., Arrigoni C., Romani G., Thiel G., Moroni A.

    Engineering a Ca++-sensitive (Bio)sensor from the pore-module of a potassium channel

    Sensors, vol. 15, (no. 3), pp. 4913-4924
  • 2014
  • DiFrancesco M.L., Hansen U.-P., Thiel G., Moroni A., Schroeder I.

    Effect of cytosolic pH on inward currents reveals structural characteristics of the proton transport cycle in the influenza A protein M2 in cell-free membrane patches of Xenopus oocytes

    PLoS ONE, vol. 9, (no. 9)
  • 2013
  • Mesirca P., Marger L., Toyoda F., Rizzetto R., Audoubert M., Dubel S., Torrente A.G., DiFrancesco M.L., Muller J.C., Leoni A.-L., Couette B., Nargeot J., Clapham D.E., Wickman K., Mangoni M.E.

    The G-protein-gated K+ channel, iKACh, is required for regulation of pacemaker activity and recovery of resting heart rate after sympathetic stimulation

    Journal of General Physiology, vol. 142, (no. 2), pp. 113-126
  • 2010
  • Henkel M., Mitzner D., Henklein P., Meyer-Almes F.-J., Moroni A., DiFrancesco M.L., Henkes L.M., Kreim M., Kast S.M., Schubert U., Thiel G.

    Proapoptotic influenza A virus protein PB1-F2 forms a nonselective ion channel

    PLoS ONE, vol. 5, (no. 6)
  • 2009
  • Abenavoli A., DiFrancesco M.L., Schroeder I., Epimashko S., Gazzarrini S., Hansen U.P., Thiel G., Moroni A.

    Fast and slow gating are inherent properties of the pore module of the K+ channel Kcv

    Journal of General Physiology, vol. 134, (no. 3), pp. 219-229