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Membranes are one of the fundamental biological polymers and they underpin a myriad of functions in the cell. But membranes are also intriguing with respect to their unique biophysical properties. This 5 nm-thick, fluid material is able to bridge scales across biology, holding an entire cell together while integrating the function of individual proteins that work at the nanometer scale. Membranes can expand and re-shape, undergo fusion and fission events, and even self-repair. And they do all of this with grace and elegance, enchanting us with their stunning beauty.
We use a bottom-up reconstitution approach to study biological nanomachines that function on membranes, such as membrane pores and membrane-deforming proteins.
However, we are not limited to naturally occurring proteins: we also use other biopolymers such as nucleic acids to build bio-inspired machines that act in concert with membranes to create new functionalities.
Finally, we are interested in studying the still underappreciated role of membranes in the origin of life.

More info:

Research interests


Scientific Degree
De Franceschi
Members of the group



  • De Franceschi N, Barth R, Meindlhumer S, Fragasso A, Dekker C. Dynamin A as a one-component division machinery for synthetic cells. Nat Nanotechnol. 2024 Jan;19(1):70-76.



  • Azad K, Guilligay D, Boscheron C, Maity S, De Franceschi N, Sulbaran G, Effantin G, Wang H, Kleman JP, Bassereau P, Schoehn G, Roos WH, Desfosses A, Weissenhorn W. Structural basis of CHMP2A-CHMP3 ESCRT-III polymer assembly and membrane cleavage. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2023 Jan;30(1):81-90.



  • De Franceschi N, Pezeshkian W, Fragasso A, Bruininks BMH, Tsai S, Marrink SJ, Dekker C. Synthetic Membrane Shaper for Controlled Liposome Deformation. ACS Nano. 2022 Nov 28;17(2):966–78

  • Blanch-Jover A, De Franceschi N, Fenel D, Weissenhorn W, Dekker K. The archaeal division protein CdvB1 assembles into polymers that are depolymerized by CdvC. FEBS Lett. 2022 Apr;596(7):958-969.



  • Fragasso A*, De Franceschi N*, Stömmer P*, van der Sluis E, Dietz H, Dekker C. Reconstitution of ultrawide DNA origami pores in liposomes for transmembrane transport of macromolecules. ACS Nano. 2021 Jun 25;15(8):12768–79.

  • Van de Cauter L, Fanalista F, van Buren L, De Franceschi N, Godino E, Bouw S, Danelon C, Dekker C, Koenderink GH, Ganzinger KA. Optimized cDICE for Efficient Reconstitution of Biological Systems in Giant Unilamellar Vesicles. ACS Synth Biol. 2021 Jul 16;10(7):1690- 1702

  • Olivi L, Berger M, Creyghton RNP, De Franceschi N, Dekker C, Mulder BM, Claassens NJ, Ten Wolde PR, van der Oost J. Towards a synthetic cell cycle. Nature Communication. 2021 Jul 26;12(1):4531.

  • Alqabandi M*, De Franceschi N*, Miguet N, Maity S, Bally M, Roos WH, Weissenhorn W, Bassereau P, Mangenot S. The ESCRT-III Isoforms CHMP2A And CHMP2B Display Different Effects On Membranes Upon Polymerization. BMC Biol. 2021 Apr 8;19(1):66.


  • Bertin A*, De Franceschi N*, de la Mora E, Maity S, Alqabandi M, Miguet N, di Cicco A, Roos WH, Mangenot S, Weissenhorn W, Bassereau P.Human ESCRT-III polymers assemble on positively curved membranes and induce helical membrane tube formation. Nature Communications. 2020;11(1):2663.

  • Taskinen ME, Närvä E, Conway JRW, Hinojosa LS, Lilla S, Mai A, De Franceschi N, Elo LL, Grosse R, Zanivan S, Norman JC, Ivaska J. MASTL promotes cell contractility and motility through kinase-independent signaling. J Cell Biol.  2020;219(6):e201906204.



  • De Franceschi N, Alqabandi M, Weissenhorn W, Bassereau P. (2019). Dynamic and Sequential Protein Reconstitution on Negatively Curved Membranes by Giant Vesicles Fusion. Bio-protocol 9(13): e3294.



  • De Franceschi N*, Miihkinen M*, Hamidi H, Alanko J, Mai A, Picas L, Guzmán C, Lévy D, Mattjus P, Goult BT, Goud B, Ivaska J. ProLIF - quantitative integrin protein-protein interactions and synergistic membrane effects on proteoliposomes. J Cell Sci. 2018;132(4):jcs214270.

  • De Franceschi N, Alqabandi M, Miguet N, Caillat C, Mangenot S, Weissenhorn W, Bassereau P. The ESCRT protein CHMP2B acts as a diffusion barrier on reconstituted membrane necks. J Cell Sci. 2018;132(4):jcs217968.



  • Peuhu E, Salomaa SI, De Franceschi N, Potter CS, Sundberg JP, Pouwels J. Integrin beta 1 inhibition alleviates the chronic hyperproliferative dermatitis phenotype of SHARPIN-deficient mice. PLoS One. 2017;12(10):e0186628.

  • Lilja J, Zacharchenko T, Georgiadou M, Jacquemet G, De Franceschi N, Peuhu E, Hamidi H, Pouwels J, Martens V, Nia FH, Beifuss M, Boeckers T, Kreienkamp HJ, Barsukov IL, Ivaska J.SHANK proteins limit integrin activation by directly interacting with Rap1 and R-Ras. Nature Cell Biology. 2017;19(4):292-305.

  • Peuhu E, Kaukonen R, Lerche M, Saari M, Guzmán C, Rantakari P, De Franceschi N, Wärri A, Georgiadou M, Jacquemet G, Mattila E, Virtakoivu R, Liu Y, Attieh Y, Silva KA, Betz T, Sundberg JP, Salmi M, Deugnier MA, Eliceiri KW, Ivaska J. SHARPIN regulates collagen architecture and ductal outgrowth in the developing mouse mammary gland. EMBO J. 2017;36(2):165-182.



  • Kaukonen R, Mai A, Georgiadou M, Saari M, De Franceschi N, Betz T, Sihto H, Ventelä S, Elo L, Jokitalo E, Westermarck J, Kellokumpu-Lehtinen PL, Joensuu H, Grenman R, Ivaska J.Normal stroma suppresses cancer cell proliferation via mechanosensitive regulation of JMJD1a-mediated transcription. Nature Communications. 2016;7:12237.

  • De Franceschi N, Arjonen A, Elkhatib N, Denessiouk K, Wrobel AG, Wilson TA, Pouwels J, Montagnac G, Owen DJ, Ivaska J. Selective integrin endocytosis is driven by interactions between the integrin α-chain and AP2. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. 2016;23(2):172-179.



  • De Franceschi N, Peuhu E, Parsons M, Rissanen S, Vattulainen I, Salmi M, Ivaska J, Pouwels J.Mutually Exclusive Roles of SHARPIN in Integrin Inactivation and NF-κB Signaling. PLoS One. 2015;10(11):e0143423.

  • De Franceschi N, Ivaska J. Integrin bondage: filamin takes control. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. 2015;22(5):355-357.

  • Virtakoivu R, Mai A, Mattila E, De Franceschi N, Imanishi SY, Corthals G, Kaukonen R, Saari M, Cheng F, Torvaldson E, Kosma VM, Mannermaa A, Muharram G, Gilles C, Eriksson J, Soini Y, Lorens JB, Ivaska J. Vimentin-ERK Signaling Uncouples Slug Gene Regulatory Function. Cancer Res. 2015;75(11):2349-2362.

  • De Franceschi N, Hamidi H, Alanko J, Sahgal P, Ivaska J. Integrin traffic - the update. J Cell Sci. 2015;128(5):839-852.



  • Muharram G, Sahgal P, Korpela T, De Franceschi N, Kaukonen R, Clark K, Tulasne D, Carpén O, Ivaska J. Tensin-4-Dependent MET Stabilization Is Essential for Survival and Proliferation in Carcinoma Cells. Developmental Cell. 2014;29(5):629-630.

  • De Franceschi N, Wild K, Schlacht A, Dacks JB, Sinning I, Filippini F. Longin and GAF domains: structural evolution and adaptation to the subcellular trafficking machinery. Traffic. 2014;15(1):104-121.



  • Pouwels J*, De Franceschi N*, Rantakari P, Auvinen K, Karikoski M, Mattila E, Potter C, Sundberg JP, Hogg N, Gahmberg CG, Salmi M, Ivaska J. SHARPIN regulates uropod detachment in migrating lymphocytes. Cell Reports. 2013;5(3):619-628.

  • Hämälistö S, Pouwels J, De Franceschi N, Saari M, Ivarsson Y, Zimmermann P, Brech A, Stenmark H, Ivaska J. A ZO-1/α5β1-integrin complex regulates cytokinesis downstream of PKCε in NCI-H460 cells plated on fibronectin. PLoS One. 2013;8(8):e70696.

  • Bouvard D, Pouwels J, De Franceschi N, Ivaska J. Integrin inactivators: balancing cellular functions in vitro and in vivo. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2013;14(7):430-442.



  • Bil-Lula I, De Franceschi N, Pawlik K, Woźniak M. Improved real-time PCR assay for detection and quantification of all 54 known types of human adenoviruses in clinical samples. Med Sci Monit. 2012;18(6):BR221-BR228.

  • Plazzo AP*, De Franceschi N*, Da Broi F, Zonta F, Sanasi MF, Filippini F, Mongillo M. Bioinformatic and mutational analysis of channelrhodopsin-2 protein cation-conducting pathway. J Biol Chem. 2012;287(7):4818-4825.



  • Vacca M, Albania L, Della Ragione F, Carpi A, Rossi V, Strazzullo M, De Franceschi N, Rossetto O, Filippini F, D'Esposito M. Alternative splicing of the human gene SYBL1 modulates protein domain architecture of Longin VAMP7/TI-VAMP, showing both non-SNARE and synaptobrevin-like isoforms. BMC Mol Biol. 2011;12:26.

* = shred first authorship

Group leader’s short bio



Dr. Nicola De Franceschi completed his Ph.D. in 2016 under the supervision of Johanna Ivaska at the University of Turku (Finland), where he studied the molecular mechanisms of integrin activation during cell adhesion and migration. From 2016 to 2019 he was a postdoctoral fellow shared between the labs of Patricia Bassereau at the Curie Institute (France) and Winfried Weissenhorn at IBS Grenoble (France), where he worked at the reconstitution of the ESCRT-III complex on model membrane systems. Next, he joined the lab of Cees Dekker at TU Delft (the Netherlands) where he continued his work on membrane deformation and scission from a synthetic biology perspective. In 2022 he established his independent research group at IMol PAS.



  • SONATA BIS 12 (National Science Centre), 4 744 640 PLN: principal investigator.


  • Polonez Bis 2 (National Science Centre), 1 135 088 PLN.


  • MSCA Fellowship, 185.000 €

  • EMBO Long Term Fellowship, 75.940 €

  • Fondation pour la recherche sur le cancer (ARC), 97.450 €

  • Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale (FRM), 100.000 €


Grants by the following private foundations, for a total of about 100.000€:
Albin Johanssons foundation
Liv och Hälsa foundation
Oskar Öflunds foundation
Biomedicum Helsinki foundation
Turku university
Finska-Norska medicinska foundation
Syopäsäätiö foundation
Onkologiayhdistys foundation
Orion-Farmos foundation
Instrumentariumin foundation
Magnus Ehrnrooth foundation
Otto A. Malms foundation




ORCID ID: 0000-0002-7221-613X

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