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LABORATORY OF MOLECULAR BIOLOGY

 


The activity of the Molecular Biology Laboratory (ex CSBM) focusses on the study of the structure-function relationships in peptides and proteins, an area that though typical of basic research can be readily applied, for example, in the rational design of drugs.
The research areas can be subdivided as follows:

I - Proteins: function and evolution
The studies concern a number of protein families obtained from different organisms, e.g. respiratory proteins, proteins with detoxifying activity, oxygen and electron transporters, enzymes, with the aim of characterizing possible structural and functional variations during evolution and of predicting and verifying the effect of specific amino acid substitutions on the protein mechanism of action.

II - Structural biology
The knowledge of the still largely unknown ‘rules’ that determine how the protein sequence governs its three-dimensional structure and function represents the ultimate goal of these studies. The activity comprises the characterization of the polypeptide chain organization at the different structural levels; the study of the ‘folding’ process; the prediction of secondary and tertiary structures; the analysis of the contributions that regulate the various recognition processes, namely, those between protein subunits that determine the quaternary assembly, and those between proteins and their ligands, including macromolecular ones; the determination of protein crystal structures.
The Biocrystal Facility was activated in this framework.

III - Cell Biochemistry
This area comprises studies with diversified aims. These range from the understanding of the role of NO in cellular bioenergetics, to the study of the defense mechanisms against oxidative stress due to radicals or reactive oxygen species, to research on resistance  and metal transport mechanisms in bacteria.

IV - Biochemical biotechnologies
These activities comprise studies on proteins involved in Ca(II)-mediated signal transduction (sorcin), whose application is not straightforward, and projects with a clear application potential, e.g. those on the production of metal and metal oxides nanoparticles in the cavity of ferritins and the bacterial Dps proteins.