CeMM Adjunct Principal Investigator

Andreas Villunger
Cell death signalling in health and disease

Prof. Dr. Andreas Villunger
Biocenter, Medical University of Innsbruck
Divison of Developmental Immunology
Innrain 80-82
6020 Innsbruck

Website

Andreas Villunger´s research focused on the role of pro-apoptotic BH3-only proteins in lymphocyte transformation and anti-cancer treatment effects, revealing for the first time that cell death upon radiotherapy can be pro-tumorigenic. In the more recent past, his team started to explore the cross-talk between the cell cycle and cell death machineries, focusing on mitotic cell death and post-mitotic cell fate. These studies also revealed a so far overlooked function of the PIDDosome signaling platform in the activation of p53 in cells with extra centrosomes. This finding formed the basis for current ERC-funded studies into the role of the PIDDosome multi-protein complex in ploidy control during organogenesis and transformation aiming to develop the PIDDosome complex into a future drug-target in disorders related to centrosome aberrations, including cancer and ageing.

Major Research Interests:
BCL2 family proteins in tissue homeostasis
DNA-damage & checkpoint signalling
Cell cycle – cell death cross-talk
Polyploidization in health and disease

Biosketch

Andreas Villunger, born 1967, joined CeMM in November 2018 as an Adjunct PI. He studied biology at the Universities of Salzburg and Innsbruck, performed his PhD and early post-doctoral studies in Innsbruck, before moving the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia. There, he investigated the role of BCL2 family proteins in immune cell development and immune-tolerance together with his mentor Prof. Andreas Strasser. Back in Innsbruck, he established his own research group supported by the FWF-START Prize in 2003. 

Selected Papers

Haschka M, Karbon G, Fava LL, Villunger A. Perturbing mitosis for anti-cancer therapy: is cell death the only answer? EMBO Rep. 2018 Mar;19(3). pii: e45440.

Schuler F, Weiss JG, Lindner SE, Lohmüller M, Herzog S, Spiegl SF, Menke P, Geley S, Labi V, Villunger A. Checkpoint kinase 1 is essential for normal B cell development and lymphomagenesis. Nat Commun. 2017 Nov 22;8(1):1697.

Sladky V, Schuler F, Fava LL, Villunger A. The resurrection of the PIDDosome - emerging roles in the DNA-damage response and centrosome surveillance. J Cell Sci. 2017 Nov 15;130(22):3779-3787.

Fava LL, Schuler F, Sladky V, Haschka MD, Soratroi C, Eiterer L, Demetz E, Weiss G, Geley S, Nigg EA, Villunger A. The PIDDosome activates p53 in response to supernumerary centrosomes. Genes Dev. 2017 Jan 1;31(1):34-45.

Haschka MD, Soratroi C, Kirschnek S, H√§cker G, Hilbe R, Geley S, Villunger A, Fava LL. The NOXA-MCL1-BIM axis defines lifespan on extended mitotic arrest. Nat Commun. 2015 Apr 29;6:6891. 

Labi V, Woess C, Tuzlak S, Erlacher M, Bouillet P, Strasser A, Tzankov A, Villunger A. Deregulated cell death and lymphocyte homeostasis cause premature lethality in mice lacking the BH3-only proteins Bim and Bmf. Blood. 2014 Apr 24;123(17):2652-62.