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In its 85-year story, the mission of our institute has been to carry out excellence research in fundamental and applied physical chemistry, contributing to the scientific training of several generations of researchers at the highest level. Our vision is to be an international reference in multidisciplinary research focused on the resolution of the present challenges of our society in the fields of health, biotechnology, new materials, and environment.


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NPThe oriented attachment of molecules in general and proteins in particular at the interface of nanoparticles is currently a challenge in (bio)nanotechnology. In this work carried out by research groups of the Institute of Physical Chemistry Rocasolano, Institute of Material Science of Madrid and Institute of Catalysis and Petroleochemistry, agarose-coated magnetic nanoparticles have been prepared and characterized. They have shown that these nanoparticles constitute an excellent experimental platform for the oriented attachment of recombinant proteins tagged with the β-trefoil lectin LSL150. Optimization of the preparation of the agarose-coated magnetic nanoparticles as followed by a survey of techniques such as dynamic light scattering (DLS), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and thermogravimetric studies, required the decoupling of particle formation from agarose coating. LSL150 interacted with these agarose-coated nanoparticles exclusively through the recognition of the sugars of the polymer, forming highly stable complexes. The marked topological polarity of this small lectin makes it an excellent molecular adaptor for the oriented attachment of proteins at the nanoparticle interface since they always face the bulk solvent. This fact opens up new possibilities for the design of novel and more efficient (bio)sensors.

Iván Acebrón, Amalia G. Ruiz-Estrada, Yurena Luengo, María del Puerto Morales, José Manuel Guisán, and José Miguel Mancheño. “Oriented Attachment of Recombinant Proteins to Agarose-Coated Magnetic Nanoparticles by Means of a β‑Trefoil Lectin Domain”. Bioconjugate Chemistry (2016) 27, 2734−2743.


apoptinaApoptin is a small protein from the chicken anemia virus‎ which selectively induces apoptosis (programmed cell suicide) in over 80 different cancer cell lines, yet does not harm healthy cells. Apoptin is a promising cancer lead and is progressing through clinical trials. Nevertheless, Apoptin's strong tendency to oligomerize limits its ability to enter cells and thwarts studies of its structure. Therefore, we have prepared and characterized a monomeric Apoptin variant that retains most of the wild type protein's selective anti-cancer activity. Using NMR spectroscopy, this variant was shown to be intrinsically disordered and dynamic on ps-ms time scales. The conformational ensemble is not significantly affected by specific phosphorylation, addition of Mg++, pH changes or red/ox conditions. These findings support a model for Apoptin's mechanism of action in which cancer specific kinases phosphorylate Apoptin, leading to its accumulation in the nucleus and activation of p53-independent apoptosis.


1. "Insights into the mechanism of Apoptin's exquisitely selective anti-tumor action from atomic level characterization of its conformation and dynamics." Ruiz-Martínez S, Pantoja-Uceda D, Castro J, Vilanova M, Ribó M, Bruix M, Benito A, Laurents DV. Arch Biochem Biophys. (2017) 614:53-64.

2. "A truncated Apoptin protein variant selectively kills cancer cells." Ruiz-Martínez S, Castro J, Vilanova M, Bruix M, Laurents DV, Ribó M, Benito A. Invest New Drugs (2017).


NCS1 Ric8aThe protein complex formed by the Ca2+ sensor NCS-1 and the guanine exchange factor Ric8a co-regulates in a antagonistic manner synapse number and probability of neurotransmitter release, emerging as a potential therapeutic target for diseases affecting synapses such as Fragile X syndrome (FXS), the most common heritable autism disorder. By combining crystallographic and chemoinformatic methodologies, a new and small phenothiazine derivative has been found to inhibit this protein complex, whose contact surface is big and complex. The administration of the compound reduces the aberrant excess of synapse number to normal levels and improves associative learning in a Drosophila FXS model. Finally, the structure-function studies have demonstrated the mechanism of action of this new molecule. This work opens the path to the generation of new drugs to treat neuronal diseases affecting synapse function, such as Autism or Alzheimer.

This work has been carried out by researchers from three CSIC Institutes (Instituto de Química-Física “Rocasolano”, Instituto Cajal and Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas) and the BSRC “Alexander Fleming” in Greece.

Alicia Mansilla, Antonio Chaves-Sanjuan, Nuria E. Campillo, Ourania Semelidou, Loreto Martínez-González, Lourdes Infantes, Juana María González-Rubio, Carmen Gil, Santiago Conde, Efthimio M. C. Skoulaki, Alberto Ferrús, Ana Martínez, María José Sánchez-Barrena. “Interference of the complex between NCS-1 and Ric8a with phenothiazines regulates synaptic function and is an approach for fragile X syndrome”. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., PNAS (2017).
EFE press release
CSIC press release


amprA complex link exists between cell-wall recycling/repair and the manifestation of resistance to β-lactam antibiotics in many Enterobacteriaceae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This process is mediated by specific cell-wall-derived muropeptide products. These muropeptides are internalized into the cytoplasm and bind to the transcriptional regulator AmpR, which controls the cytoplasmic events that lead to expression of β-lactamase, an antibiotic-resistance determinant. By a combination of X-ray crystallography, mass spectrometry and molecular dynamics techniques we have characterized the effector-binding domain (EBD) of AmpR. Our results provide insights on the muropeptides triggering antibiotics resistance and revises the dogma in the field.
This is part of a collaborative effort between the IQFR and the Univ. of Notre Dame (Indiana, USA).

Dik, D.A.; Domínguez-Gil, T.; Lee, M.; Hesek, D.; Byun, B.; Fishovitz, J.; Boggess, B.; Hellman, L.M.; Fisher, J. F.; Hermoso, J.A.; Mobashery, S. “Muropeptide Binding and the X-Ray Structure of the Effector Domain of the Transcriptional Regulator AmpR of Pseudomonas aeruginosa”. J. Am. Chem. Soc. (2017).


zenonWe study thermochemical [1] and electronic properties [2] of halogen-containing species with relevance to several atmospherical processes (e.g. catalytic ozone destruction and air quality).
On the one hand, we found that Gn (Gaussian-n, n = 3,4) ab initio computations are accurate theoretical methods to provide reliable heat of formation and carbon-halogen bond-energy values of a wide variety of chlorinated and brominated organic species [1]. These data will be implemented in climate models in order to evaluate the atmospheric-impact of these compounds.

On the other hand, we have shown that the CASPT2 methodology ("Complete Active Self Consistent Field Perturbation Theory”) is also an excellent method for providing reliable values of absorption optical parameters (within the UV-Vis range) of representative species such as IBr and HgBr2 which have particular connotation in photochemical atmospheric processes [2].

[1] J.Z. Dávalos, R. Notario, C.A. Cuevas, J.M. Oliva, A. Saiz-Lopez: “Thermochemistry of halogen-containing organic compounds with influence on atmospheric chemistry”. Comp. Theor. Chem. 1099 (2017) 36-44. DOI:10.1016/j.comptc.2016.11.009
[2] S.P. Sitkiewicz, J.M. Oliva, J.Z. Dávalos, R. Notario, A. Saiz-Lopez, D.R. Alcoba, O.B. Oña, D. Roca-Sanjuán; “Ab initio quantum-chemical computations of the electronic states in HgBr2 and IBr: Molecules of interest on the Earth's atmosphere”. J. Chem. Phys. 145 (2016) 244304, 1-14. DOI:10.1063/1.4971856


ozono tropicalTropospheric ozone is an important greenhouse gas. Ozone has exerted an increase in the global radiative forcing of climate almost equal to that of methane over the period between 1750 and 2011. The largest contribution to the climatic influence of ozone is due to its increase in the tropical troposphere. A recent international study, with participation of scientists from the Dept. of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate of this Institute, shows that ozone concentration in the mid-troposphere (8-10 km) over the western Pacific is three times larger than in the tropics. From the analysis of satellite data, aircraft observations and climate modeling reported here it was concluded that fires in tropical Africa and Southeast Asia are the dominant source of high ozone over the western Pacific. High ozone and low water structures in the tropical western Pacific are commonly attributed to transport from the stratosphere or mid-latitudes. However, these observations suggest a larger role for biomass burning in the radiative forcing of climate in the remote tropical western Pacific than is commonly appreciated.

D. C. Anderson, J. M. Nicely, R. J. Salawitch, T. P. Canty, R. R. Dickerson, T. F. Hanisco, G. M. Wolfe, E. C. Apel, E. Atlas, T. Bannan, S. Bauguitte, N. J. Blake, J. F. Bresch, T. L. Campos, L. J. Carpenter, M. D. Cohen, M. Evans, R. P. Fernandez, B. H. Kahn, D. E. Kinnison, S. R. Hall, N. R. Harris, R. S. Hornbrook, J.-F. Lamarque, M. Le Breton, J. D. Lee, C. Percival, L. Pfister, R. R. Pierce, D. D. Riemer, A. Saiz-Lopez, B. J. Stunder, A. M. Thompson, K. Ullmann, A. Vaughan and A. J. Weinheimer. A pervasive role for biomass burning in tropical high ozone/low water structures. Nature Communications (2015).



figura-nota-PNASDrought and salinity are the major threats to crop productivity at a worldwide scale. A fundamental portion of the plant response to these environmental stresses occurs at the cell membrane, where the molecular machinery to preserve cell turgor and the appropriate balance of intracellular ions is found. The C2-domain ABA-related (CAR) family of proteins contributes to these processes by delivering the regulatory proteins controlling this machinery from other cell compartments to the cell membrane. Our analysis provides an explanation on how CAR proteins specifically reach a particular membrane place to develop their function and trigger the plant defense mechanism against stress.

Maira Diaz, Maria Jose Sanchez-Barrena, Juana Maria Gonzalez-Rubio, Lesia Rodriguez, Daniel Fernandez, Regina Antoni, Cristina Yunta, Borja Belda-Palazon, Miguel Gonzalez-Guzman, Marta Peirats-Llobet, Margarita Menendez, Jasminka Boskovic, Jose A. Marquez, Pedro L. Rodriguez and Armando Albert. "Calcium-dependent oligomerization of CAR proteins at cell membrane modulates ABA signaling", PNAS (2015).
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1512779113.



Angélica Partida Hanon, PhD student from the department of Biological Physical Chemistry has been awarded with one of the two Universia Foundation scholarships intended for the completion of the PhD thesis.

Universia Foundation ( is a private entity of Santander group which promotes the access to higher education and qualified employment for people with disabilities in Spain. 2015’s call included two scholarships intended to carry doctoral studies, which are allocated based on the merits of the applicant and the host research group. One of them have been granted to Angelica Partida Hanon, graduated in Biological Sciences from the Complutense University of Madrid, who joined the group of Structure, Dynamics and Protein Interactions by NMR in September of 2014, for her doctoral studies on the applications of NMR to determine the structural basis of the antigen-antibody recognition in two model systems: immunogenic peptides derived from the gp41 glycoprotein of HIV-1 virus and the allergenic protein “Ani s 1” of Anisakis simplex


"Bioquímica de Sistemas de la division bacteriana"

Germán Rivas

Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas de Madrid

Jueves 29 de enero

Sala 300, 12:00

"Control de un proceso de fotodisociación molecular con campos láser intensos"

Rebeca de Nalda

Miércoles 28 de enero

Salón de actos, 12:00


Researchers at IQFR, in close collaboration with researchers from the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, have demonstrated the existence of a new inorganic compound that emits laser light and that belongs to a kind of materials never considered before for such application; the boron hydrides or boranes. Specifically, the researchers have concentrated in their work on solutions of anti-B18H22, a polyhedral inorganic molecule containing 18 boron and 22 hydrogen atoms, with architecture resembling that of a split soccer ball joint at opposite edges.
With a quantum yield of fluorescence of 97%, this compound emits laser light at a wavelength of 400 nm, with an efficiency and photostability that is superior or similar to many of the commercially available state-of-the-art organic dyes in this spectral region. Such properties will enable, in a future to come, the reduction in the number of times the laser medium has to be replaced in the devices based in the use of solutions, helping to solve issues with costs, occupational hazards, and environmental impact due to handling of solvents, which are toxic, flammable, and even carcinogenic.

The scientific relevance of this discovery, which has been published in the journal Nature Communications, represents a milestone in the history of lasers, since there are not many occasions in which a new family of laser materials is unveiled.

L. Cerdán, J. Braborec, I. García-Moreno, A. Costela, M. G. S. Londesborough. A borane laser. Nature Communications (2015), DOI: 10.1038/ncomms6958

CSIC press note link


"Química de heteroboranos poliédricos"

Miércoles 5 de febrero, 12:00

Salón de Actos

“How do pneumococci and other bacteria subvert the function of human proteins”

Friday 29th, 12:00

Room 300

Magnetic Properties Across Metal to Insulator Transitions

Room 300, Friday 10th January, 10:30