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

Nat Commun. 2015 May 12;6:7093. doi: 10.1038/ncomms8093

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.


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