Structural Biology of Host-Pathogen Interactions Group
CIB (Biological Research Centre), CSIC.
Calle Ramiro de Maeztu 9, 28040 Madrid.
Principal Investigator: M. Cristina Vega Fernández
Project Staff: José Francisco Fernández Pérez, Miguel López Estepa, Javier Querol García, Esther Peña Soler.
The Structural Biology of Host-Pathogen Interactions Group at the Biological Research Centre (CSIC) in Madrid comprises 4 people and develops a multidisciplinary approach to understand the structural and molecular basis of pathogen infection. Our main goal is to decipher, at the molecular level, how the various virulence factors evolved in human pathogenic bacteria are able to subvert the normal function of human protective and regulatory molecules. We are also interested in disease-causing alterations leading to the dysregulation of human protein complexes in the absence of a pathogenic molecule. Our research activities involve molecular cloning and protein expression; protein and protein complex purification; biophysical characterization of protein-protein and protein-small molecule binding using ITC and BIAcore; and crystallization and structure determination by X-ray diffraction methods. The group has successfully applied these techniques to a variety of macromolecules ranging in size from 7 kDa to 0.8 MDa shedding light in e.g., the assembly of signal transduction cascades and export/import processes by protein-protein interaction modules and the regulatory and catalytic mechanisms of large hetero-oligomeric metabolic complexes. Currently, these research activities are applied to various facets of the human and rodent complement systems, to understand diverse pathologies (e.g., dense deposit syndrome), infectious diseases that evade complement (e.g., streptococcal infections), as well as fundamental aspects of differential complement function between human and relevant model systems (e.g., C3 cleavage in human, rat, and mouse).