Academic Position
2001-present Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Padua, Italy

Educational and Training
2013 National academic qualification as Associate Professor of Biochemistry (BIO/10)
1998-1999 CNR fellowship, Department of Biological Chemistry, University of Padua
1996-1998 Post Doctoral fellowship Italian Ministry of Education, Department of Biological Chemistry, University of Padua
1991-1994 Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Padua, Italy
1991      Degree in Biological Sciences, University of Padua, Italy

Foreign periods
March, 1997 Visiting post doctoral fellow, Institute of Biochemistry, University of Odense, Denmark
June – August, 1995 Visiting doctoral fellow, Department of Human Genetics, Universitat des Saarlandes, Germany
May – August, 1994 Visiting doctoral fellow, Department of Human Genetics, Universitat des Saarlandes, Germany
October, 1990 - October, 1991  Visiting student fellow, Department of Biochemistry, KU Leuven, Belgium

Teaching Activity
2001 to present: classes of Chemistry and Biochemistry for different Courses of the Medical School, University of Padova. 
 2014 to present: member of the PhD School in Biomedical Sciences of the University of Padova.

Structural and functional characterization of protein kinases are the main research interests of Dr Sarno. She focused her interest on protein kinase CK2, the most pleiotropic kinase of the kinome.
Protein kinase CK2 is implicated in a variety of cellular functions, its activity is particularly elevated in a variety of tumors and it plays a global role as pro-survival and antiapoptotic agent and up to now the mechanism which is responsible for CK2 regulation is still missing.
With a mutagenesis strategy, Dr Sarno identified residues and domains implicated in critical functions of this enzyme. In parallel she developed a purification strategy for the crystallization of the catalytic subunit of CK2. Many CK2 structures (apoenzyme and with ATP competitive inhibitors) have been solved in collaboration with the Zanotti and Battistutta groups.
During the last years, her research work focused on studying the role of oligomeric and supramolecular organization of CK2 and recently she started a new project on the role of protein kinase CK2 in epigenetic regulation. Notably she identified LSD1 (Lysine-specific demethylase 1) as a new CK2 substrate and the functional role of this phosphorylation is now investigated.
She is involved in development of selective kinase inhibitors.


  1. Costa R, Arrigoni G, Cozza G, Lolli G, Battistutta R, Izpisua Belmonte JC, Pinna LA and Sarno S (2014) “The lysine-specific demethylase 1 is a novel substrate of protein kinase CK2.” Biochim Biophys Acta 184, 722-729.
  2. Sarno S, Mazzorana M, Traynor R, Ruzzene M, Cozza G, Pagano MA, Zagotto G, Battistutta R and Pinna LA (2012) “Structural features underlying the selectivity of the kinase inhibitors NBC and dNBC: role of a nitro group that discriminates between CK2 and DYRK1A.” Cell Mol Life Sci 69, 449-60.
  3. Sarno S, Papinutto E, Franchin C, Bain J, Elliott M, Meggio F, Kazimierczuk Z, Orzeszko A, Battistutta R and Pinna LA (2011) “ATP site-directed inhibitors of protein kinase CK2: An Update” Curr Top Med Chem 11, 1340-1351.
  4. Loizou JI, Khamisky SF, Zlatanou A, Moore DJ, Chan DW, Qin J, Sarno S, Meggio F, Pinna LA and Cladecott KW (2004) “The protein kinase CK2 facilitates repair of chromosomal DNA single-strand breaks” Cell 117, 17-28.
  5. Sarno S, De Moliner E, Ruzzene M, Pagano MA, Battistutta R, Bain J, Fabbro D, Schoepfer J, Elliott M, Furet P, Meggio F, Zanotti G and Pinna LA (2003) “Biochemical and 3D-structural data on the specific inhibition of protein kinase CK2 by (5-oxo-5,6-dihydro-indolo(1,2-a)quinazolin-7-yl)acetic acid) (IQA)” Biochem J 374, 639-646.

Full list of publications

University of Padova

Progetto di Ateneo 2015: Role of protein kinase CK2 in epigenetic regulation. 24 mesi Coordinatore Progetto