NUCLEOTIDES SENSING AND METABOLISM
Cell growth is regulated by coordination of both extracellular nutrients and intracellular metabolite concentrations. Cells have developed exquisite mechanisms to sense nutrient status and adjust their behavior to maintain growth or cope with stress, using a variety of mechanisms.
Nucleotides are centre stage in cell’s life, not only because they are strategic components of nucleic acids, but also for their role as signaling molecules. On the other hand, proteins are responsible for many tasks of cellular life and also receive signals from outside and orchestrate the intracellular response. Unbalanced production, malfunction or changes in the stability of individual proteins cause pathologies.
Our major goal is to understand the structure and function of proteins control nucleotide sensing and metabolism. We study various processes in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, including biofilm formation, host-pathogen interactions and metabolic reprogramming in cancer cells. We analyze these processes in hypoxia and normoxia, to unravel the contribution of oxygen and other gaseous molecules to cellular behavior.
We are interested in clarifying the molecular mechanisms, pinpointing the role of single amino acids and protein dynamics in controlling protein activity and stability. Moreover, we are also interested in studying the role of macromolecular interactions (protein/nucleic acids and protein/protein) in driving nucleotide sensing and metabolism.
We use a multidisciplinary approach encompassing Biochemistry, Structural Biology, Molecular and Cell Biology. We are now moving one step ahead, trying to couple basic research to translational studies, in order to identify inhibitors of selected protein targets.
Our recent projects include proteins involved in:
- Nucleotides and metabolic reprogramming in cancer cells
- Cyclic dinucleotides in bacterial biofilm and host-pathogen interactions
- Nitric oxide metabolism in bacteria