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In its 88-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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May 22th, 10:00h. General meeting of the institute for the presentación of Dr. Juan de la Figuera as candidate for director.

Imagen Tesis ReduThe Thesis entitled Electrocatalysis and surface nanostructuring: atomic ensemble effects and non-covalent interactions, whose author is Dr. María Escudero Escribano, and which was developed at the Institute of Physical Chemistry "Rocasolano" under the supervision of Dr. Angel Cuesta Ciscar, has received the Prize to the Best PhD Thesis in the Region of Madrid in the course 2011-2012, awarded by the Madrid Chapter of the Spanish Royal Society of Chemistry (RSEQ). The research was focused on the study of the role of geometric atomic ensembles in electrocatalysis, and on the fabrication of surface nanostructures guided by a self-ordered molecular pattern, namely cyanide-modified Pt(111). The Thesis can be downloaded from Digital CSIC (


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.
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

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