Vincent Torre

Vincent Torre

The key idea at Vincent Torre's laboratory is interdisciplinary research: "classical" methods in electrophysiology are combined with the latest development in nanotechnology and optical systems, and used to investigate fundamental neurobiology problems such as neuron's motility and signal diffusion in cells.

Vincent TorreCourse coordinator

Vincent Torre has always concentrated his efforts on three major areas of research that appear to be complementary among them, and, over the years, he has given for each one of them an outstanding contribution that has been recognized and appreciated at international level.

Vincent Torre ‘s scientific career is essentially focused on seeking an interaction between Biology and Physics and, for this reason, it can be described as genuinely interdisciplinary.

His research interests and achievements, as confirmed by the list of publications, can be divided into:

Biophysics of Phototransduction and of Ion Channels

From 1974, first under the supervision of Prof. Luigi Cervetto and then of Sir Alan Hodgkin, Vincent Torre has been studying phototransduction in its electrophysiological and quantitative aspects. In 1990 he also focused on the biophysical analysis of ion channels both from the theoretical and the experimental points of view.

Systems and Computational Neuroscience

Since 1978, in collaboration with Tommy Poggio and Christof Koch, Vincent Torre has laid the basis for Computational Neuroscience with the production of several papers that now have become milestones in this field. In 1995 he started studying the leech nervous system and neuronal cultures, trying to combine experiments with theoretical methods, typically from physics and mathematics.

Artificial Vision and Cybernetics

From the mid 1980s Vincent Torre has also studied Artificial Vision, giving important contributions to what is called “early vision“ and in particular to the perception of motion. At present Vincent Torre is Full Professor of Physiology within the Neurobiology Sector at SISSA and he is also the Director of the Interdisciplinary Laboratory at SISSA.


Research Lines

The role of internal diffusion in vertebrate phototransduction

Diffusion of second messengers, such as Calcium ions and cyclic nucleotides is at the basis of major biological mechanisms. We are investigating the role of internal diffusion in rod photoreceptors by using spots of light with a diameter  of 20-100 nm and recording the elicited photoresponse.

Sensory processing in the leech nervous system

The leech nervous system is composed by a chain of about 20 ganglia, each composed by approximately 700 neurons. By using newly developed voltage sensitive dyes we are investigating the parallel processing of sensory information in leech ganglia. From the obtained sequence of images it is possible to characterize the electrical activity of about 20-30 % of neurons in each ganglia. 

Properties of cyclic nucleotide gated ionic channels

We are using site specific mutagenesis combined with patch clamp electrical recordings to characterize electrical properties of cyclic nucleotide gated channels, underlying sensory transduction in vertebrate photorecreptors and olfatory sensory neurons.

Single Molecule Force Spectroscopy of ionic channels in situ

The combination of Single Molecule Force Spectroscopy from membrane patches expressing specific ionic channels and site specific mutagenesis of theee channels allows the characterization of conformational changes of these ionic channels in situ. This analysis, when combined with molecular dynamical simulations, provides a novel view of the operation of ionic channels.

Molecular mechanisms of force generation in neuronal growth cones

We are using optical tweezers to characterize and measure the force generated by neuronal  growth cones during development and maturation. The combination of this technique with conventinal histological methods allows the determination of molecular mechanisms of major biological events and the specific role of  several proteins, such ads actin, tubulin.

Imaging of signal transduction in neuronal growth cones

By combining optical tweezers and advanced imaging methods, such as FRET, FRAP and STED we can obtain a precise charaterization of signal transduction in growth cones and of the action of guidance molecules.


Vincent Torre Neurobiology and Cognitive Neuroscience Sectors International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) Via Bonomea, 265 34136, Trieste (ITALY)

Tel.+39 040 3787 713
Fax.+39 040 3787 702

Selected publications

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2019 Mar 1;60(4):933-943.

Electrophysiological Changes During Early Steps of Retinitis Pigmentosa

Bocchero U, Tam BM, Chiu CN, Torre V, Moritz OL.


(2018) Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, 12, art. no. 130.

Cell mechanotransduction with piconewton forces applied by optical tweezers

Falleroni, F., Torre, V., Cojoc, D.

Biophys J. 2018 Mar 27;114(6):1264-1266.

Fodis: Software for Protein Unfolding Analysis

Galvanetto N, Perissinotto A, Pedroni A, Torre V.

Biomed Mater. 2018 Feb 28;13(3):034105.

Improved neuron culture using scaffolds made of three-dimensional PDMS micro-lattices

Li S, Ulloa Severino FP, Ban J, Wang L, Pinato G, Torre V, Chen Y.

Sci Rep. 2018 Jan 8;8(1):45.

The gating mechanism in cyclic nucleotide-gated ion channels

Mazzolini M, Arcangeletti M, Marchesi A, Napolitano LMR, Grosa D, Maity S, Anselmi C, Torre V.

PLoS Comput Biol. 2018 Aug 2;14(8):e1006295.

The permeation mechanism of organic cations through a CNG mimic channel

Napolitano LMR, Marchesi A, Rodriguez A, De March M, Onesti S, Laio A, Torre V.


(2018) Applied Optics, 57 (1), A242.

Single-shot, dual-mode, water-immersion microscopy platform for biological applications

Picazo-Bueno, J.Á., Cojoc, D., Iseppon, F., Torre, V., Micó, V.

Adv Mater. 2018 Dec;30(52):e1806132.

A Fully 3D Interconnected Graphene-Carbon Nanotube Web Allows the Study of Glioma Infiltration in Bioengineered 3D Cortex-Like Networks

Xiao M, Li X, Song Q, Zhang Q, Lazzarino M, Cheng G, Ulloa Severino FP, Torre V.


Nat Biotechnol. 2017 Nov 9;35(11):1021-1023.

Public views on gene editing and its uses

Gaskell G, Bard I, Allansdottir A, da Cunha RV, Eduard P, Hampel J, Hildt E, Hofmaier C, Kronberger N, Laursen S, Meijknecht A, Nordal S, Quintanilha A, Revuelta G, Saladié N, Sándor J, Santos JB, Seyringer S, Singh I, Somsen H, Toonders W, Torgersen H, Torre V, Varju M, Zwart H.

(2017) J Biol Methods;4(1):e65.

Combining FRET and optical tweezers to study RhoGTPases spatio-temporal dynamics upon local stimulation

Iseppon, F., Napolitano, LM., Torre, V., Cojoc, D. 

Sci Rep. 2017 Sep 20;7(1):12000.

New views on phototransduction from atomic force microscopy and single molecule force spectroscopy on native rods

Maity S, Ilieva N, Laio A, Torre V, Mazzolini M.

Front Cell Neurosci. 2017 Dec 18;11:402.

Actin Waves Do Not Boost Neurite Outgrowth in the Early Stages of Neuron Maturation

Mortal S, Iseppon F, Perissinotto A, D'Este E, Cojoc D, Napolitano LMR, Torre V.

J Neurosci Methods. 2017 Mar 15;280:1-10.

An improved method for growing neurons: Comparison with standard protocols

Pozzi D, Ban J, Iseppon F, Torre V.

Microelectronic Engineering Volume 175, 5 May 2017, Pages 61-66

Patch method for culture of primary hippocampal neurons

YadongTang, Francesco Paolo Ulloa Severino, Federico Iseppon, Vincent Torre, Yong Chen.

Microelectronic Engineering Volume 175, 5 May 2017, Pages 67-72

Fabrication of PLGA nanofibers on PDMS micropillars for neuron culture studies

Jin Wei, Diletta Pozzi, Francesco Paolo Ulloa Severino, Vincent Torre, Yong Chen.

ACS Omega, 2016, 1 (6), pp 1205–1219

Structural Heterogeneity of CNGA1 Channels Revealed by Electrophysiology and Single-Molecule Force Spectroscopy

Sourav Maity, Arin Marchesi, Vincent Torre, and Monica Mazzolini.

PLoS One. 2016 Jan 14;11(1):e0146842.

The Role of Rac1 in the Growth Cone Dynamics and Force Generation of DRG Neurons

Sayyad WA, Fabris P, Torre V.

Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 29640 (2016)

The role of dimensionality in neuronal network dynamics

Ulloa Severino FP, Ban J, Song Q, Tang M, Bianconi G, Cheng G, Torre V.

Front. Cell. Neurosci. 9:333 (2015).

Cdc42 and RhoA reveal different spatio-temporal dynamics upon local stimulation with Semaphorin-3A

Iseppon F, Napolitano LMR, Torre V and Cojoc D.

Nat Commun. 2015 May 12;6:7093.

Conformational rearrangements in the transmembrane domain of CNGA1 channels revealed by single-molecule force spectroscopy

Maity S, Mazzolini M, Arcangeletti M, Valbuena A, Fabris P, Lazzarino M, Torre V.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 May 4. pii: 201423162. [Epub ahead of print]

The phototransduction machinery in the rod outer segment has a strong efficacy gradient

Mazzolini M, Facchetti G, Andolfi L, Proietti Zaccaria R, Tuccio S, Treu J, Altafini C, Di Fabrizio EM, Lazzarino M, Rapp G, Torre V.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Jul 7;112(27):E3619-28.

A structural, functional, and computational analysis suggests pore flexibility as the base for the poor selectivity of CNG channels

Napolitano LM, Bisha I, De March M, Marchesi A, Arcangeletti M, Demitri N, Mazzolini M, Rodriguez A, Magistrato A, Onesti S, Laio A, Torre V.

PLoS One. 2013 Aug 21;8(8):e73025.

Comparison of the Force Exerted by Hippocampal and DRG Growth Cones

Amin L, Ercolini E, Ban J, Torre V.

Physiol Rep. 2013 Nov;1(6):e00148.

Multiple mechanisms underlying rectification in retinal cyclic nucleotide-gated (CNGA1) channels.

Arcangeletti M, Marchesi A, Mazzolini M, Torre V.

Scientific Reports 2013, 3, 1251.

Common dynamical features of sensory adaptation in photoreceptors and olfactory sensory neurons.

De Palo G, Facchetti G, Mazzolini M, Menini A, Torre V, Altafini C. 

Front Integr Neurosci. 2013 Sep 27;7:69.

The use of dendrograms to describe the electrical activity of motoneurons underlying behaviors in leeches.

Juárez-Hernández LJ, Bisson G, Torre V.

PLoS One. 2013 Sep 6;8(9):e73966.

Can Hippocampal Neurites and Growth Cones Climb over Obstacles?

Lien TL, Ban J, Tormen M, Migliorini E, Grenci G, Pozzato A, Torre V. 

Biotechnol Bioeng, 2013 Aug;110(8):2301-10.

Nanomechanics Controls Neuronal Precursors Adhesion and Differentiation

Migliorini E, Ban J, Grenci G, Andolfi L, Pozzato A, Tormen M, Torre V and Lazzarino M.

Physiol Rep. 2013 Oct;1(5):e00089.

The spontaneous electrical activity of neurons in leech ganglia.

Moshtagh-Khorasani M, Miller EW, Torre V.

Biophysical Journal 2012, 102(11), 2451-2460

The role of membrane stiffness and actin turnover on the force exerted by DRG lamellipodia.


Frontiers in Physiology 2012, 3, 133

The dynamics of group formation among leeches.


Nature Communications 2012, 3, art. 973

Gating of CNG channels is voltage dependent

Marchesi A, Mazzolini M, Torre V.

Journal of Physiology 2012, 590(20), 5075-5090

A ring of threonines in the inner vestibule of the pore of CNGA1 channels constitutes a binding site for permeating ions.


Scientific Reports 2012, 2, 675

Less than 5 Netrin-1 molecules initiate attraction but 200 Sema3A molecules are necessary for repulsion.

Giulietta Pinato, Dan Cojoc, Linh Thuy Lien, Alessio Ansuini, Jelena Ban, Elisa D’Este & Vincent Torre.

PNAS 2011, 108 (84), 13978-13983

Cytoskeletal actin networks in motile cells are critically self-organized systems synchronized by mechanical interactions.


Chapter Book in Nanoscopy and Multidimensional Optical Fluorescence Microscopy; Editor: A. Diaspro, CRC Press, (2010).

Optical Tweezers Microscopy: applying and measuring piconewton forces in cell biology

F. Difato, E. Ferrari, R. Shahapure, V. Torre and D. Cojoc


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