Publications

by Keyword: Synthesis


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Fonte, M., Tassi, N., Fontinha, D., Bouzón-Arnáiz, I., Ferraz, R., Araújo, M. J., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Prudêncio, M., Gomes, P., Teixeira, C., (2021). 4,9-Diaminoacridines and 4-aminoacridines as dual-stage antiplasmodial hits ChemMedChem 16, (5), 788-792

Multi-stage drugs have been prioritized in antimalarial drug discovery, as targeting more than one process in the Plasmodium life cycle is likely to increase efficiency, while decreasing the chances of emergence of resistance by the parasite. Herein, we disclose two novel acridine-based families of compounds that combine the structural features of primaquine and chloroquine. Compounds prepared and studied thus far retained the in vitro activity displayed by the parent drugs against the erythrocytic stages of chloroquine-sensitive and -resistant Plasmodium falciparum strains, and against the hepatic stages of Plasmodium berghei, hence acting as dual-stage antiplasmodial hits.

Keywords: Acridines, Antimalarial activity, Blood-stage, Liver-stage, Malaria, Plasmodium, Synthesis


Revilla-López, G., Sans, J., Casanovas, J., Bertran, O., Puiggalí, J., Turon, P., Alemán, C., (2020). Analysis of nitrogen fixation by a catalyst capable of transforming N2, CO2 and CH4 into amino acids under mild reactions conditions Applied Catalysis A: General 596, 117526

The processes related to the fixation of nitrogen in a catalyst able to produce glycine and alanine from a N2, CO2 and CH4 gas mixture at mild reaction conditions have been studied by combining experimental and theoretical investigations. Results have allowed to understand the role of different elements of the catalyst, which is constituted by permanently polarized hydroxyapatite (p-HAp), zirconia, and aminotris(methylenephosphonic acid) (ATMP). ATMP attracts N2 molecules towards the surface, maintaining them close to the zirconia and p-HAp components that are the most active from a catalytic point of view. On the other hand, the associative mechanism is thermodynamically favoured under mild reaction conditions with respect to the dissociative one, which is limited by the barrier associated to the Nsingle bondN bond cleavage. Because this reaction mechanism is similar to that employed in the nitrogen fixation by nitrogenase enzymes, these findings provide an opportunity to design new bioinspired catalysts.

Keywords: Artificial photosynthesis, Carbon fixation, Hydroxyapatite, N[sbnd]N bond cleavage


Lopez-Martinez, Montserrat, López-Ortiz, Manuel, Antinori, Maria Elena, Wientjes, Emilie, Nin-Hill, Alba, Rovira, Carme, Croce, Roberta, Díez-Pérez, Ismael, Gorostiza, Pau, (2019). Electrochemically gated long distance charge transport in photosystem I Angewandte Chemie International Edition 58, (38), 13280-13284

The transport of electrons along photosynthetic and respiratory chains involves a series of enzymatic reactions that are coupled through redox mediators, including proteins and small molecules. The use of native and synthetic redox probes is key to understand charge transport mechanisms, and to design bioelectronic sensors and solar energy conversion devices. However, redox probes have limited tunability to exchange charge at the desired electrochemical potentials (energy levels) and at different protein sites. Here, we take advantage of electrochemical scanning tunneling microscopy (ECSTM) to control the Fermi level and nanometric position of the ECSTM probe in order to study electron transport in individual photosystem I (PSI) complexes. Current-distance measurements at different potentiostatic conditions indicate that PSI supports long-distance transport that is electrochemically gated near the redox potential of P700, with current extending farther under hole injection conditions.

Keywords: Current decay, ECSTM, Electrochemical gate, Electron transfer, Photosynthesis


Pollastri, S., Jorba, I., Hawkins, T. J., Llusià , J., Michelozzi, M., Navajas, D., Peñuelas, J., Hussey, P. J., Knight, M. R., Loreto, F., (2019). Leaves of isoprene-emitting tobacco plants maintain PSII stability at high temperatures New Phytologist 223, (3), 1307-1318

At high temperatures, isoprene-emitting plants display a higher photosynthetic rate and a lower nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ) compared with nonemitting plants. The mechanism of this phenomenon, which may be very important under current climate warming, is still elusive. NPQ was dissected into its components, and chlorophyll fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) was used to analyse the dynamics of excited chlorophyll relaxation in isoprene-emitting and nonemitting plants. Thylakoid membrane stiffness was also measured using atomic force microscope (AFM) to identify a possible mode of action of isoprene in improving photochemical efficiency and photosynthetic stability. We show that, when compared with nonemitters, isoprene-emitting tobacco plants exposed at high temperatures display a reduced increase of the NPQ energy-dependent component (qE) and stable (1) chlorophyll fluorescence lifetime; (2) amplitude of the fluorescence decay components; and (3) thylakoid membrane stiffness. Our study shows for the first time that isoprene maintains PSII stability at high temperatures by preventing the modifications of the surrounding environment, namely providing a more steady and homogeneous distribution of the light-absorbing centres and a stable thylakoid membrane stiffness. Isoprene photoprotects leaves with a mechanism alternative to NPQ, enabling plants to maintain a high photosynthetic rate at rising temperatures.

Keywords: (High) temperature, Atomic force microscopy (AFM), Chlorophyll fluorescence (quenching and lifetime), Fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM), Isoprene, Nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ), Photosynthesis


De Matteis, Valeria, Rizzello, Loris, Ingrosso, Chiara, Liatsi-Douvitsa, Eva, De Giorgi, Maria Luisa, De Matteis, Giovanni, Rinaldi, Rosaria, (2019). Cultivar-dependent anticancer and antibacterial properties of silver nanoparticles synthesized using leaves of different Olea Europaea trees Nanomaterials 9, (11), 1544

The green synthesis of nanoparticles (NPs) is currently under worldwide investigation as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional routes (NPs): the absence of toxic solvents and catalysts make it suitable in the design of promising nanomaterials for nanomedicine applications. In this work, we used the extracts collected from leaves of two cultivars (Leccino and Carolea) belonging to the species Olea Europaea, to synthesize silver NPs (AgNPs) in different pH conditions and low temperature. NPs underwent full morphological characterization with the aim to define a suitable protocol to obtain a monodispersed population of AgNPs. Afterwards, to validate the reproducibility of the mentioned synthetic procedure, we moved on to another Mediterranean plant, the Laurus Nobilis. Interestingly, the NPs obtained using the two olive cultivars produced NPs with different shape and size, strictly depending on the cultivar selected and pH. Furthermore, the potential ability to inhibit the growth of two woman cancer cells (breast adenocarcinoma cells, MCF-7 and human cervical epithelioid carcinoma, HeLa) were assessed for these AgNPs, as well as their capability to mitigate the bacteria concentration in samples of contaminated well water. Our results showed that toxicity was stronger when MCF-7 and Hela cells were exposed to AgNPs derived from Carolea obtained at pH 7 presenting irregular shape; on the other hand, greater antibacterial effect was revealed using AgNPs obtained at pH 8 (smaller and monodispersed) on well water, enriched with bacteria and coliforms.

Keywords: Green synthesis, Silver nanoparticles, Olea Europaea, Leccino, Carolea, Cytotoxicity, Genotoxicity, Antibacterial activity


Frau-Méndez, Margalida A., Fernández-Vega, Iván, Ansoleaga, Belén, Blanco, Rosa, Carmona, Margarita, Antonio del Rio, Jose, Zerr, Inga, Llorens, Franc, Zarranz, Juan José, Ferrer, Isidro, (2017). Fatal familial insomnia: Mitochondrial and protein synthesis machinery decline in the mediodorsal thalamus Brain Pathology 27, (1), 95-106

The expression of subunits of mitochondrial respiratory complexes and components of the protein synthesis machinery from the nucleolus to the ribosome was analyzed in the mediodorsal thalamus in seven cases of Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI) compared with age-matched controls. NDUFB8 (complex I subunit), SDHB (complex II subunit), UQCRC2 (complex III subunit), COX2 (complex IV subunit) and ATP50 (complex V subunit) expression levels, as revealed by western blotting, were reduced in FFI. Voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) and ATP5H were also reduced due to the marked depopulation of neurons. In contrast, a marked increase in superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2) was found in reactive astrocytes thus suggesting that astrocytes are key factors in oxidative stress responses. The histone-binding chaperones nucleolin and nucleoplasmin 3, and histone H3 di-methylated K9 were markedly reduced together with a decrease in the expression of protein transcription elongation factor eEF1A. These findings show severe impairment in the expression of crucial components of mitochondrial function and protein synthesis in parallel with neuron loss in mediodorsal thalamus at terminal stages of FFI. Therapeutic measures must be taken long before the appearance of clinical symptoms to prevent the devastating effects of FFI.

Keywords: Fatal familial insomnia, Mitochondria, Protein synthesis, Mitochondrial respiratory chain, Nucleolus, Ribosome


Garcia-Esparcia, Paula, López-González, Irene, Grau-Rivera, Oriol, García-Garrido, María Francisca, Konetti, Anusha, Llorens, Franc, Zafar, Saima, Carmona, Margarita, del Rio, José Antonio, Zerr, Inga, Gelpi, Ellen, Ferrer, Isidro, (2017). Dementia with Lewy Bodies: Molecular pathology in the frontal cortex in typical and rapidly progressive forms Frontiers in Neurology 8, Article 89

Objectives: The goal of this study was to assess mitochondrial function, energy, and purine metabolism, protein synthesis machinery from the nucleolus to the ribosome, inflammation, and expression of newly identified ectopic olfactory receptors (ORs) and taste receptors (TASRs) in the frontal cortex of typical cases of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and cases with rapid clinical course (rpDLB: 2 years or less) compared with middle-aged non-affected individuals, in order to learn about the biochemical abnormalities underlying Lewy body pathology. Methods: Real-time quantitative PCR, mitochondrial enzymatic assays, and analysis of β-amyloid, tau, and synuclein species were used. Results: The main alterations in DLB and rpDLB, which are more marked in the rapidly progressive forms, include (i) deregulated expression of several mRNAs and proteins of mitochondrial subunits, and reduced activity of complexes I, II, III, and IV of the mitochondrial respiratory chain; (ii) reduced expression of selected molecules involved in energy metabolism and increased expression of enzymes involved in purine metabolism; (iii) abnormal expression of nucleolar proteins, rRNA18S, genes encoding ribosomal proteins, and initiation factors of the transcription at the ribosome; (iv) discrete inflammation; and (v) marked deregulation of brain ORs and TASRs, respectively. Severe mitochondrial dysfunction involving activity of four complexes, minimal inflammatory responses, and dramatic altered expression of ORs and TASRs discriminate DLB from Alzheimer’s disease. Altered solubility and aggregation of α-synuclein, increased β-amyloid bound to membranes, and absence of soluble tau oligomers are common in DLB and rpDLB. Low levels of soluble β-amyloid are found in DLB. However, increased soluble β-amyloid 1–40 and β-amyloid 1–42, and increased TNFα mRNA and protein expression, distinguish rpDLB. Conclusion: Molecular alterations in frontal cortex in DLB involve key biochemical pathways such as mitochondria and energy metabolism, protein synthesis, purine metabolism, among others and are accompanied by discrete innate inflammatory response.

Keywords: Dementia with Lewy bodies, Alzheimer’s disease, α-synuclein, Mitochondria, Protein synthesis, Inflammation, β-amyloid, Olfactory receptors


Crespo, Anna, Pedraz, Lucas, Astola, Josep, Torrents, Eduard, (2016). Pseudomonas aeruginosa exhibits deficient biofilm formation in the absence of class II and III ribonucleotide reductases due to hindered anaerobic growth Frontiers in Microbiology 7, Article 688

Chronic lung infections by the ubiquitous and extremely adaptable opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa correlate with the formation of a biofilm, where bacteria grow in association with an extracellular matrix and display a wide range of changes in gene expression and metabolism. This leads to increased resistance to physical stress and antibiotic therapies, while enhancing cell-to-cell communication. Oxygen diffusion through the complex biofilm structure generates an oxygen concentration gradient, leading to the appearance of anaerobic microenvironments. Ribonucleotide reductases (RNRs) are a family of highly sophisticated enzymes responsible for the synthesis of the deoxyribonucleotides, and they constitute the only de novo pathway for the formation of the building blocks needed for DNA synthesis and repair. P. aeruginosa is one of the few bacteria encoding all three known RNR classes (Ia, II, and III). Class Ia RNRs are oxygen dependent, class II are oxygen independent, and class III are oxygen sensitive. A tight control of RNR activity is essential for anaerobic growth and therefore for biofilm development. In this work we explored the role of the different RNR classes in biofilm formation under aerobic and anaerobic initial conditions and using static and continuous-flow biofilm models. We demonstrated the importance of class II and III RNR for proper cell division in biofilm development and maturation. We also determined that these classes are transcriptionally induced during biofilm formation and under anaerobic conditions. The molecular mechanism of their anaerobic regulation was also studied, finding that the Anr/Dnr system is responsible for class II RNR induction. These data can be integrated with previous knowledge about biofilms in a model where these structures are understood as a set of layers determined by oxygen concentration and contain cells with different RNR expression profiles, bringing us a step closer to the understanding of this complex growth pattern, essential for P. aeruginosa chronic infections.

Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Ribonucleotide Reductases, Vitamin B 12, Anaerobic metabolism, Biofilm formation, DNA Synthesis, Oxygen diffusion, nrd genes.


Ansoleaga, B., Garcia-Esparcia, Paula, Llorens, Franc, Hernández-Ortega, Karina, Carmona Tech, Margarita, Antonio del Rio, José, Zerr, Inga, Ferrer, Isidro, (2016). Altered mitochondria, protein synthesis machinery, and purine metabolism are molecular contributors to the pathogenesis of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology , 75, (8), 755-769

Neuron loss, synaptic decline, and spongiform change are the hallmarks of sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (sCJD), and may be related to deficiencies in mitochondria, energy metabolism, and protein synthesis. To investigate these relationships, we determined the expression levels of genes encoding subunits of the 5 protein complexes of the electron transport chain, proteins involved in energy metabolism, nucleolar and ribosomal proteins, and enzymes of purine metabolism in frontal cortex samples from 15 cases of sCJD MM1 and age-matched controls. We also assessed the protein expression levels of subunits of the respiratory chain, initiation and elongation translation factors of protein synthesis, and localization of selected mitochondrial components. We identified marked, generalized alterations of mRNA and protein expression of most subunits of all 5 mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes in sCJD cases. Expression of molecules involved in protein synthesis and purine metabolism were also altered in sCJD. These findings point to altered mRNA and protein expression of components of mitochondria, protein synthesis machinery, and purine metabolism as components of the pathogenesis of CJD.

Keywords: Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, Electron transport chain, Mitochondria, Oxidative phosphorylation, Protein synthesis, Purine.


Torrents, Eduard, (2014). Ribonucleotide reductases: Essential Enzymes for bacterial life Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology , 4, 1-9

Ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) is a key enzyme that mediates the synthesis of deoxyribonucleotides, the DNA precursors, for DNA synthesis in every living cell. This enzyme converts ribonucleotides to deoxyribonucleotides, the building blocks for DNA replication, and repair. Clearly, RNR enzymes have contributed to the appearance of genetic material that exists today, being essential for the evolution of all organisms on Earth. The strict control of RNR activity and dNTP pool sizes is important, as pool imbalances increase mutation rates, replication anomalies, and genome instability. Thus, RNR activity should be finely regulated allosterically and at the transcriptional level. In this review we examine the distribution, the evolution, and the genetic regulation of bacterial RNRs. Moreover, this enzyme can be considered an ideal target for anti-proliferative compounds designed to inhibit cell replication in eukaryotic cells (cancer cells), parasites, viruses, and bacteria.

Keywords: Anaerobiosis, Transcription Factors, Evolution, Gene regulation, Ribonucleotide reductase, DNA Synthesis, NrdR,nrd


Messeguer, J., Masip, I., Montolio, M., del Rio, J. A., Soriano, E., Messeguer, A., (2010). Peptoids bearing tertiary amino residues in the n-alkyl side chains: synthesis of a potent inhibitor of Semaphorin 3A Tetrahedron , 66, (13), 2444-2454

A study on the preparation of N-alkylglycines (peptoids) that contain tertiary amino residues on the N-alkyl side chains is reported. The appropriate combination of the submonomer strategy with N-alkylglycine monomer couplings depending upon the structure of the N-alkyl side chain that must be incorporated into the peptoid is determinant for the efficiency of the synthetic pathway. The application of this strategy to the preparation of SICHI, an N-alkyglycine trimer containing tertiary amino residues in the three N-alkyl branches, and that has been identified as a potent Semaphorin 3A inhibitor, is presented.

Keywords: Peptoids, N-Alkylglycine monomers, Solid-phase synthesis, Semaphorin inhibition, Axonal regeneration


Banos, R. C., Pons, J. I., Madrid, C., Juarez, A., (2008). A global modulatory role for the Yersinia enterocolitica H-NS protein Microbiology , 154, (5), 1281-1289

The H-NS protein plays a significant role in the modulation of gene expression in Gram-negative bacteria. Whereas isolation and characterization of hns mutants in Escherichia coli, Salmonella and Shigella represented critical steps to gain insight into the modulatory role of H-NS, it has hitherto not been possible to isolate hns mutants in Yersinia. The hns mutation is considered to be deleterious in this genus. To study the modulatory role of H-NS in Yersinia we circumvented hns lethality by expressing in Y. enterocolitica a truncated H-NS protein known to exhibit anti-H-NS activity in E. coli (H-NST(EPEC)). Y. enterocolitica cells expressing H-NST(EPEC) showed an altered growth rate and several differences in the protein expression pattern, including the ProV protein, which is modulated by H-NS in other enteric bacteria. To further confirm that H-NST(EPEC) expression in Yersinia can be used to demonstrate H-NS-dependent regulation in this genus, we used this approach to show that H-NS modulates expression of the YmoA protein.

Keywords: Bacterial Proteins/biosynthesis/genetics/ physiology, DNA-Binding Proteins/biosynthesis/genetics/ physiology, Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional, Gene Expression Profiling, Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial, Genes, Essential, Proteome/analysis, RNA, Bacterial/biosynthesis, RNA, Messenger/biosynthesis, Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction, Sequence Deletion, Yersinia enterocolitica/chemistry/genetics/growth & development/ physiology