Image of Michael Piacentino

Piacentino, Michael

Assistant Professor


725 N Wolfe Street

Cell Biology

Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a cellular lifestyle change that produces highly invasive cells that can migrate long distances in the body. These processes are critical for normal embryonic development but are often reactivated in disease states such as cancer metastasis. Our lab seeks to understand the impact of developmentally timed changes in lipid composition, how these lipids alter membrane biophysics and organization, and ultimately regulate cell signaling, EMT, and migration. To answer these questions in vivo, we use the developing chicken embryo and study a migratory population of stem cells called the neural crest. Insights gained from studying neural crest cells have the potential to inform novel therapeutic approaches to combat both congenital disorders and metastatic diseases. We work together toward these goals in an inclusive, respectful, and creative research environment.

Piacentino ML, Hutchins EJ, Andrews CJ, and Bronner ME (2022). Temporal changes in plasma membrane lipid content induce endocytosis to regulate developmental epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119:e2212879119.

Hutchins EJ, Gandhi S, Chacon J, Piacentino ML, and Bronner ME (2022). RNA-binding protein Elavl1/HuR is required for maintenance of cranial neural crest specification. eLife. 11:e63600.

Piacentino ML, Hutchins EJ, and Bronner ME (2021). Essential function and targets of BMP signaling during midbrain neural crest delamination. Developmental Biology 477, 251-261.

Gandhi S, Li Y, Tang W, Christensen JB, Urrutia HA, Vieceli FM, Piacentino ML, and Bronner ME (2021). A combinatorial approach for genome editing and lineage tracing in chick embryos using replication-incompetent avian retroviruses. Development 148(7): dev193565.

Hutchins EH, Piacentino ML, and Bronner ME (2021). Transcriptomic identification of Draxin-responsive targets during cranial neural crest EMT. Frontiers in Physiology. 12:624037.

Piacentino ML, Li Y, and Bronner ME (2020). Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and different migration strategies as viewed from the neural crest. Current Opinion in Cell Biology 66, 43-50.

Hutchins EJ, Piacentino ML, and Bronner ME (2020). P-bodies are sites of rapid RNA decay required for the neural crest epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Preprint. bioRxiv:

Hogan JD, Keenan JL, Luo L, Ibn-Salem J, Lambda A, Schatzberg D, Piacentino ML, Zuch DT, Core AB, Blumberg C, Timmermann B, Grau JH, Speranza E, Andrade M, Irie N, Poustka AJ, and Bradham CA (2020). The developmental transcriptome for Lytechinus variegatus exhibits temporally punctuated gene expression changes. Developmental Biology 460 (2): 139-154.

Soldatov R, Kaucka M, Kastriti ME, Petersen J, Chontorotzea T, Englmaier L, Akkuratova N, Yang Y, Haring M, Dyachuk V, Bock C, Farlik M, Piacentino ML, Boismoreau F, Hilscher MM, Yokota C, Qian X, Milsson M, Bronner ME, Croci L, Hsiao WY, Cuertin D, Brunet JF, Consalez GG, Enfors P, Fried K, Kharchenko PV, and Adameyko I (2019). Spatio-temporal structure of cell fate decisions in neural crest. Science 364(6444). pii: eaas9536.

Hutchins EJ, Kunttas E, Piacentino ML, Howard AGA 4th, Bronner ME, and Uribe R (2018). Migration and diversification of the vagal neural crest. Developmental Biology 444. S98-S109.

Piacentino ML and Bronner ME (2018). Intracellular attenuation of BMP signaling via CKIP-1/Smurf1 is essential during neural crest induction. PLoS Biology 16(6): e2004425.

Gandhi S, Piacentino ML, Vieceli FM and Bronner ME (2017). Optimization of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing for loss-of-function in the early chick embryo. Developmental Biology 432(1): 86-97.