Dr Cristina Tufarelli

Wellcome Trust Research Career Re-entry Fellow

School/Department: Genetics and Genome Biology, Department of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 223 1853



I graduated in Molecular Biology from the University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’ and then spent four years working in the lab of Prof Ellis J. Neufeld in the Department of Pediatrics Harvard Medical School. After completing a DPhil and postdoc in the lab of Prof Doug Higgs at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine I moved to the Department of Genetics University of Leicester with a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellowship and then took up a lectureship in the School of Medicine University of Nottingham. Following a career break I have now returned to research within the Leicester Cancer Research Centre supported by a Wellcome Trust Research Career Re-Entry Fellowship.


Our research aims to understand the role of repetitive DNA in driving epigenetic and transcriptional alterations that predispose cells to acquire cancerous characteristics and to establish the potential for exploiting this information in the clinic. We currently focus on: Determine which repetitive elements are active in precancerous and cancerous cells Understanding what causes activation of repetitive elements Study the link between inflammation repetitive DNA and cancer Investigate whether expression of these elements has potential for early detection of cancer or as a predictor of response to therapy. To achieve these goals we use a combination of ‘omics’ genome editing and pharmacological approaches in cell cultures and primary tissues.


1. Ahmad A, Strohbuecker S, Scotti C, Tufarelli C, Sottile V. In Silico Identification of SOX1 Post-Translational Modifications Highlights a Shared Protein Motif. Cells. 2020 Nov 13;9(11):2471.
2. Karwad MA, Couch DG, Wright KL, Tufarelli C, Larvin M, Lund J, O'Sullivan SE. Endocannabinoids and Endocannabinoid-Like Compounds Modulate Hypoxia-Induced Permeability in CaCo-2 Cells via CB 1, TRPV1, and PPARα. Biochem Pharmacol 2019 Oct;168:465-472
3. Al-Khyatt W, Tufarelli C, Khan R, Iftikhar SY. Selective oestrogen receptor antagonists inhibit oesophageal cancer cell proliferation in vitro. BMC Cancer 2018 Feb 1;18(1):121
4. Jeziorska DM, Murray RJS, De Gobbi M, Gaentzsch R, Garrick D, Ayyub H, Chen T, Li E, Telenius J, Lynch M, Graham B, Smith AJH, Lund JN, Hughes J, Higgs DR, Tufarelli C. DNA methylation of intragenic CpG islands depends on their transcriptional activity during differentiation and disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Sep 5;114(36):E7526-E7535
5. Ahmad A, Strohbuecker S, Tufarelli C*, Sottile V*. SOX1-OT and its link to SOX1 gene expression in neural differentiation and cancer. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2017 Oct 17; 74(22):4245-4258 - *corresponding authors
6. Vafadar-Isfahani N, Parr C, McMillan LE, Sanner J, Yeo Z, Saddington S, Peacock O, Cruickshanks HA, Meehan RR, Lund JN, & Tufarelli C. Decoupling of DNA methylation and activity of intergenic LINE-1 promoters in colorectal cancer. Epigenetics. 2017 Jun 3;12(6):465-475
7. Xu, H., Aboobaker, A., Emes, R., Lund, J. & Tufarelli, C. TECDetec: Transposable element chimeric transcripts detector, <> (2014).
8. Peacock O, Lee AC, Cameron F, Tarbox R, Vafadar-Isfahani N, Tufarelli C*, Lund JN. Inflammation and MiR-21 pathways functionally interact to downregulate PDCD4 in colorectal cancer. PLoS One. 2014 Oct 13;9(10):e110267 - *corresponding author
9. Cruickshanks HA, Vafadar-Isfahani N, Dunican DS, Lee A, Sproul D, Lund JN, Meehan RR, Tufarelli C. Expression of a large LINE-1-driven antisense RNA is linked to epigenetic silencing of the metastasis suppressor gene TFPI-2 in cancer. Nucleic Acids Res. 2013 Aug 1;41(14):6857-6869
10. Armstrong CA, Jones GD, Anderson R, Iyer P, Narayanan D, Sandhu J, Singh R, Talbot CJ, Tufarelli C. DNMTs are required for delayed genome instability caused by radiation. Epigenetics. 2012 Aug;7(8):892-902



Molecular epigenetics; molecular basis of cancer prevention; molecular ageing and cancer


BSc third year project supervisor MSc Bioinformatics - individual project supervisor MSc Cancer Molecular Pathology and Therapeutics - project supervisor


2020-2025 - Genetics Society Committee Member (Gene Structure Function and Regulation) 2017-2018 - Lay Chair HSS equivalence assessment panel Academy of Healthcare Science (AHCS)


Wellcome Trust Research Career Re-entry Fellowship
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