Núria Verdaguer Massana
Structural characterization of viral particles and proteins and large biological complexes. The group uses a number of structural biology techniques. In particular, x-ray crystallography and combinations of x-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy.
The first topic is focused in the structural and functional characterization of different processes in the biological cycle of RNA viruses: i) Structure and morphogenesis of the viral capsids, ii) virus-receptor interactions and, iii) viral replication. The information obtained would be instrumental not only for improving the knowledge about the functioning of these viral systems but also in the development of novel antiviral strategies.
The second topic is focused in the structural analysis of the vault ribonucleoprotein complex. With a mass of 13 MDa and overall dimensions of 70 x 40 x 40 nm, the vault complex is the largest particle found in eukaryote. Regarding the hypothetical functions of this particle, it has proposed to be implicated in a diversity of cellular processes, including multidrug resistance, transport mechanisms and signal trasmission. However, their exact role in any of these pathways remains elusive. The high resolution structural information about this particle should contribute to the knowledge on its physiological role.