School of Food Science and Nutrition

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Matteo Castronovo

Lecturer in Biochemistry
Research section: Food Chemistry and Biochemistry

Contact details

Room: P2.21b
Tel: +44 (0)113 3433814


DNA and RNA self-assembled nanosystems
Biomolecular physics
Effects of nanoscale confinement on biochemical reactions
Multiplexed imaging of tissue biomarkers

Photograph of Matteo Castronovo

Research interests

Matteo Castronovo joined the School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds as Lecturer in Biochemistry in July 2016. Prior to this appointment he headed the Nanobiophysics Laboratory in the Department of Medical and Biological Sciences at the University of Udine, Italy (2013-16). Dr. Castronovo also held an appointment at the Aviano National Cancer Institute in Aviano, Italy (2011-13), and a junior faculty position in the Department of Biology at Temple University, Philadelphia, USA (2009-11).

Dr. Castronovo's research program is in the area of experimental biomolecular nanoscience. A primary goal is to develop innovative approaches to profile protein and nucleic acids in highly heterogeneous tissues, with single-cell resolution.

An underlying theme of Dr. Castronovo's research is to join fundamental with applied research. Experimental approaches include the use of atomic force microscopy and nanolithography to study nucleic acid self-assembly on surfaces and in solution, with the goal of developing functional nanodevices.

In his studies Dr. Castronovo has uncovered novel emergent behaviour of nucleic acids in crowded environments, including DNA origami structures. These behaviours reflect structural changes, as well as changes in enzyme diffusion and recognition under conditions of nanoscale confinement and high molecular density. His findings reveal that nucleic acid-nucleic acid and nucleic acid-protein interactions proceed in a qualitatively different manner in dense and ordered nanosystems, compared to their interactions in bulk solution or in the presence of macromolecular crowding agents. These findings suggest that nucleic acid self-assembly can be manipulated to deliberately control the diffusion, recognition, and reactivity of nucleic acid towards enzymes and other ligands. Matteo's long-term vision is that nucleic acid-based biosensors can be developed that can self-adapt to diverse biological microenvironments. In turn, this will allow the development of new bioanalytical approaches that can meet the challenge of the intrinsic heterogeneity of biological tissues.


Rotella C, Doni G, Bosco A, Castronovo M, De Vita A, Casalis L, Pavan GM, Parisse P Site accessibility tailors DNA cleavage by restriction enzymes in DNA confined monolayers Nanoscale 9 6399-6405, 2017
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Amodio A, Adedeji AF, Castronovo M, Franco E, Ricci F PH-Controlled Assembly of DNA Tiles Journal of the American Chemical Society 138 12735-12738, 2016
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Solano I, Parisse P, Gramazio F, Cavalleri O, Bracco G, Castronovo M, Casalis L, Canepa M Spectroscopic ellipsometry meets AFM nanolithography: About hydration of bio-inert oligo(ethylene glycol)-terminated self assembled monolayers on gold Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 17 28774-28781, 2015
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Amodio A, Zhao B, Porchetta A, Idili A, Castronovo M, Fan C, Ricci F Rational design of pH-controlled DNA strand displacement Journal of the American Chemical Society 136 16469-16472, 2014
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Idili A, Amodio A, Vidonis M, Feinberg-Somerson J, Castronovo M, Ricci F Folding-upon-binding and signal-on electrochemical DNA sensor with high affinity and specificity Analytical Chemistry 86 9013-9019, 2014
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Redhu SK, Castronovo M, Nicholson AW Digital imprinting of RNA recognition and processing on a self-assembled nucleic acid matrix Scientific Reports 3 -, 2013
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Castronovo M, Stopar A, Coral L, Redhu SK, Vidonis M, Kumar V, Del Ben F, Grassi M, Nicholson AW Effects of nanoscale confinement on the functionality of nucleic acids: Implications for nanomedicine Current Medicinal Chemistry 20 3539-3557, 2013
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Rizzolio F, Lucchetti C, Caligiuri I, Marchesi I, Caputo M, Klein-Szanto AJ, Bagella L, Castronovo M, Giordano A Retinoblastoma tumor-suppressor protein phosphorylation and inactivation depend on direct interaction with Pin1 Cell Death and Differentiation 19 1152-1161, 2012
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Liang J, Castronovo M, Scoles G DNA as invisible ink for AFM nanolithography Journal of the American Chemical Society 134 39-42, 2012
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Castronovo M, Scaini D The atomic force microscopy as a lithographic tool: nanografting of DNA nanostructures for biosensing applications. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 749 209-221, 2011
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Castronovo M, Lucesoli A, Parisse P, Kurnikova A, Malhotra A, Grassi M, Grassi G, Scaggiante B, Casalis L, Scoles G Two-dimensional enzyme diffusion in laterally confined DNA monolayers Nature Communications 2 -, 2011
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Castronovo M, Radovic S, Grunwald C, Casalis L, Morgante M, Scoles G Control of steric hindrance on restriction enzyme reactions with surface-Bound DNA nanostructures Nano Letters 8 4140-4145, 2008
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Mirmomtaz E, Castronovo M, Grunwald C, Bano F, Scaini D, Ensafi AA, Scoles G, Casalis L Quantitative study of the effect of coverage on the hybridization efficiency of surface-bound DNA nanostructures Nano Letters 8 4134-4139, 2008
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Scaini D, Castronovo M, Casalis L, Scoles G Electron transfer mediating properties of hydrocarbons as a function of chain length: A differential scanning conductive tip atomic force microscopy investigation ACS Nano 2 507-515, 2008
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Lutman AAG, Castronovo M, Vescovo R, Bonţoiu C, Craievich P, Rumiz L Wakefield induced energy spread in the FERMI undulator 29th International Free Electron Laser Conference, FEL 2007 , 2007
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Castronovo M, Bano F, Raugei S, Scaini D, Dell'Angela M, Hudej R, Casalis L, Scoles G Mechanical stabilization effect of water on a membrane-like system Journal of the American Chemical Society 129 2636-2641, 2007
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