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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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Suc2 octa webScientists from IQFR have revealed the structure of the Saccharomyces invertase, a highly interesting enzyme for Biotechnology and a classical model used in early biochemical studies. In the study have participated scientists from IATA (CSIC).
Invertases catalyze the hydrolysis of the disaccharide sucrose into glucose and fructose, being key enzymes in the metabolism of plants and microorganisms. Besides its historic relevance, Saccharomyces invertase is one of the most widely used enzymes in food industry, and in the fermentation of cane molasses into ethanol. A new emerging application is the synthesis of prebiotics (FOS) for use in functional foods and pharmaceuticals.

 

Reference: Journal of Biological Chemistry (2013) 288, 9755- 9766 (doi:10.1074/jbc.M112.446435)
Three-dimensional structure of Saccharomyces invertase. Role of a non-catalytic domain in oligomerization and substrate specificity. http://www.jbc.org/content/288/14/9755#fn-9
MA Sainz-Polo. M Ramírez, A Lafraya, B González, J Marín-Navarro, J Polaina, J Sanz-Aparicio.


Its structural analysis has shown a sophisticated molecular architecture with a peculiar monomer assembly, unique to this enzyme within its family, which regulates its specificity. This assemblage is similar to the interactions that form b-amiloids, and is mediated by the non-catalytic domain. Therefore, our results highlight the role of the non-catalytic domains in fine-tuning substrate specificity and supplement our knowledge into the structural features that rule modularity, a central feature within carbohydrate-active enzymes.

Press note.

 

Streptococcus pneumoniae surface-exposed thioredoxin-like proteins that are involved in defence against oxidative stress

May 22th 2013

16th May of 2013

Figura1Investigation from the Spanish national Research Council (CSIC) has revealed new binding mechanisms of carbohydrates with quadruplex DNA. These results raise the possibility of developing carbohydrates as anticancer drugs.
DNA quadruplex structures are usually located at the telomeres (the end of chromosomes), thought they have been recently observed in oncogene promoters. In contrast with the well-known double helix, in these regions DNA adopts structures of quadruplex helix consisting of a square arrangement of guanines called tetrads.
  
Reference: Irene Gómez-Pinto, Empar Vengut-Climent, Ricardo Lucas, Anna Aviñó, Ramón Eritja, Carlos González, Juan Carlos Morales. Carbohydrate–DNA Interactions at G-Quadruplexes: Folding and Stability Changes by Attaching Sugars at the 5’-End. Chem. Eur. DOI: 10.1002/chem.201203902
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/chem.201203902/full

MJSanchezDue to their sessile nature, plants have to endure adverse environmental conditions, and in this context, soil salinity is a severe and increasing constraint on the productivity of agricultural crops.
The Arabidopsis thaliana Na+/H+ plasma membrane antiporter SOS1 is essential to maintain low intracellular levels of the toxic Na+ under salt stress, and it is considered a very interesting biotechnological target for crop improvement. Researchers from IQFR, Armando Albert and María José Sánchez-Barrena, in collaboration with groups from IEM and IRNAS (CSIC) have carried out in vivo, biochemical and electron microscopy studies to understand the three- dimensional structure of this critical protein for salt tolerance.

Reference: Structural insights on the plant Salt-Overly-Sensitive 1 (SOS1) Na+/H+ antiporter
Núñez-Ramírez R, Sánchez-Barrena MJ, Villalta I, Juan F. Vega, Pardo JM, Quintero FJ,  Martínez-Salazar J, Albert A. 
Journal of Molecular Biology (2012) 424, 283-294  (doi:10.1016/j.jmb.2012.09.015)

FRETThe use of commercial long-wavelength (>650 nm) laser dyes in many biophotonic applications has several important limitations, including low absorption at the standard pump wavelength (532 nm) and poor photostability. A research group headed by L. Cerdán from IQFR, in collaboration with researchers from Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Universidad del Pais Vasco, have demostrated that the use of Förster type (FRET) energy transfer can overcome these problems to enable efficient, stable near-IR lasing in a colloidal suspension of latex nanoparticles containing a mixture of Rhodamine 6G and Nile Blue dyes.


Reference: “FRET-assisted laser emission in colloidal suspensions of dye-doped latex nanoparticles,“ L. Cerdán,* E. Enciso, V. Martín, J. Bañuelos, I. Lopez Arbeloa, A. Costela and I. García-Moreno;  Nature Photonics 2012 DOI: 10.1038/ NPHOTON.2012.201
http://www.nature.com/nphoton/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nphoton.2012.201.html

 

FAFLife on Earth is based on nucleic acids that contain ribose (RNA) or deoxyribose (DNA) sugar moieties. However these are not the only polymers able to contain and transmit genetic information. It has been observed recently that, with the appropriated polymerases, nucleic acids based on other kind of sugars (such as arabinoses) can replicate.
So, why does nature use riboses? We do not know.
To help solve this problem, scientists from IQFR and McGill University in Montreal, funded by a CSIC I-link Project, have determined the structure of the “arabino nucleic acid” that it turned out to be very similar to our DNA.
Similar, but not identical. And the differences may be important, since they affect the stability of the double helix and other alternative structures. In addition, arabino-oligonucleotides and their fluoro-derivatives have very promising applications in biomedicine. In particular, they could prove very useful as they are resistant to ribonucleases, the enzymes which normally cleave and recycle nucleic acids, which in Earth have evolved to cleave nucleic acids based on ribose, but not in arabinose.
Referencia: The solution structure of double helical arabino nucleic acids (ANA and 2'F-ANA): effect of arabinoses in duplex-hairpin interconversion
Nerea Martin-Pintado et al., Nucleic Acids Res, 2012; doi: 10.1093/nar/gks672

evolucion imanacionA cobalt film two atoms thick has a magnetization direction perpendicular to the film plane when grown on ruthenium. Spin-polarized low-energy electron microscopy allows to observe its local magnetization, and follow in real time and real space changes in the magnetic domains of the film. When exposed to minute amounts of hydrogen, the out-of-plane magnetic domains in the film first break into smaller domains and eventually the magnetization direction switches on an in-plane orientation. The effect is understood with theoretical calculations that show that the origin is the change in the electronic structure of the topmost cobalt atoms bonded to hydrogen. This effect might be used to make gas sensors based on magnetic detection. The hydrogen pressure required for the effect is just one billionth of the atmospheric pressure, for a few minutes. Given the prevalence of hydrogen in ultra-high-vacuum experimental instruments, this effect also points to the risk hydrogen effects can pose for magnetization studies.
Reference: B. Santos, S. Gallego, A. Mascaraque, K.F. McCarty, A. Quesada, A.T. N’Diaye, A.K. Schmid, and J. de la Figuera. "Hydrogen-induced reversible spin-reorientation transition and magnetic stripe domain phase in bilayer Co on Ru(0001)",  Phys. Rev. B 85 (2012) 134409, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.85.134409 (arxiv 1203.3945)

 

 

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