Home > Research > Scientific Programmes: Structural Biology Programme

Structural Biology Programme

Director:  Óscar Llorca
Secretary:  Mª Belén Bañeres

Overview Last update March/2013

The objective of the Structural Biology and Biocomputing Programme is to decipher the mechanisms behind the molecular systems that are of key importance for cancer. The strength of our Programme resides in its capacity to combine computational, biochemical, biophysical and structural approaches. Our Programme is deeply involved in collaborations with basic and translational Research Programmes at the CNIO, as well as in a number of international large-scale research consortia.

Our 2 main research goals are: i) understanding – at the mechanistic level – the role of protein complexes in cell cycle control, DNA repair, genomic stability and growth factor signalling, and ii), predicting the consequences of mutations associated to cancer at the levels of protein stability, conformational dynamics, allosteric regulation and enzymatic function. Our recent research efforts focus on single and compensatory mutations as well as on the study of alterations in splicing patterns.

Research highlights of this year range from genomic/proteomic to protein dynamic studies. In particular, the Programme has contributed to exploring the consequences of splicing and trans-splicing and the association of these events with cancer. Additionally the Programme contributed to the combined biochemical and structural analysis of the activation of Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) by phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2), the binding of the transcription activator-like effector AvrBs3 to its DNA target, and the function of the MuB AAA+ ATPase in targeted recombination. Finally, it is worth mentioning our work pertaining to the modelling of conformational flexibility of oncogenic non-receptor tyrosine kinases, such as c-Src and c-Abl, and the exploration of the implications for drug binding.