Structural Microbiology

Group leader
David Albesa-Jové
+34 946 01 5171

Biofisika Institute (CSIC-UPV/EHU)

Science Park of the UPV/EHU
Barrio Sarriena s/n. 48940 Leioa, Bizkaia (Spain)

Research goal

The research activities of the Group focus on deciphering the structure and function of virulence factors in pathogenic bacteria. To this end, we employ a multidisciplinary approach that includes the use of X-ray crystallography, Cryo-Electron Microscopy, biophysics and biochemistry.  Currently, we investigate the mechanism of action of bacterial toxins delivered by the Type 6 Secretion System (T6SS). Nearly a quarter of sequenced Gram-negative bacteria code for the T6SS, which bacteria employ to inject toxins into target cells. The T6SS assembles inside the bacteria. Upon cell contact, this molecular machine is propelled towards the target cell, puncturing their membranes and injecting effector proteins using a contractile spike-like device. Toxins delivered by the T6SS target competing bacteria or eukaryotic host cells, providing a fitness advantage that allows them to thrive and facilitates host colonisation. We hope that our research efforts can provide fundamental scientific advances and inspire the next generation of antimicrobials.


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González-Magaña A, Tascón I, Altuna-Alvarez J, Queralt-Martín M, Colautti J, Velázquez C, Zabala M, Rojas-Palomino J, Cárdenas M, Alcaraz A, Whitney JC, Ubarretxena-Belandia I, Albesa-Jové D.

Structural and functional insights into the delivery of a bacterial Rhs pore-forming toxin to the membrane
Nat Commun. 2023 Nov 28;14(1):7808
doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-43585-5

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González-Magaña A, Altuna J, Queralt-Martín M, Largo E, Velázquez C, Montánchez I, Bernal P, Alcaraz A, Albesa-Jové D.

The P. aeruginosa effector Tse5 forms membrane pores disrupting the membrane potential of intoxicated bacteria
Commun Biol. 2022 Nov 5;5(1):1189
DOI: 10.1038/s42003-022-04140-y

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Nolan LM, Cain AK, Clamens T, Furniss RCD, Manoli E, Sainz-Polo MA, Dougan G, Albesa-Jové D, Parkhill J, Mavridou DAI, Filloux A.

Identification of Tse8 as a Type VI secretion system toxin from Pseudomonas aeruginosa that targets the bacterial transamidosome to inhibit protein synthesis in prey cells.
Nat Microbiol. 2021 Sep;6(9):1199-1210
DOI: 10.1038/s41564-021-00950-8

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González-Magaña A, Sainz-Polo MÁ, Pretre G, Çapuni R, Lucas M, Altuna J, Montánchez I, Fucini P, Albesa-Jové D.

Structural insights into Pseudomonas aeruginosa Type six secretion system exported effector 8
J Struct Biol. 2020 Dec 1;212(3):107651
DOI: 10.1016/j.jsb.2020.107651

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Albesa-Jové D, Sainz-Polo MÁ, Marina A, Guerin ME.

Structural Snapshots of α-1,3-Galactosyltransferase with Native Substrates: Insight into the Catalytic Mechanism of Retaining Glycosyltransferases.
Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2017 Nov 20;56(47):14853-14857
DOI: 10.1002/anie.201707922

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Albesa-Jové D, Svetlíková Z, Tersa M, Sancho-Vaello E, Carreras-González A, Bonnet P, Arrasate P, Eguskiza A, Angala SK, Cifuente JO, Korduláková J, Jackson M, Mikušová K, Guerin ME.

Structural basis for selective recognition of acyl chains by the membrane-associated acyltransferase PatA.
Nat Commun. 2016 Mar 11;7:10906
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10906

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Planamente S, Salih O, Manoli E, Albesa-Jové D, Freemont PS, Filloux A.

TssA forms a gp6‐like ring attached to the type VI secretion sheath.
EMBO J. 2016 Aug 1;35(15):1613-27
DOI: 10.15252/embj.201694024

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Albesa-Jové D, Mendoza F, Rodrigo-Unzueta A, Gomollón-Bel F, Cifuente JO, Urresti S, Comino N, Gómez H, Romero-García J, Lluch JM, Sancho-Vaello E, Biarnés X, Planas A, Merino P, Masgrau L, Guerin ME.

A Native Ternary Complex Trapped in a Crystal Reveals the Catalytic Mechanism of a Retaining Glycosyltransferase.
Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2015 Aug 17;54(34):9898-902
DOI: 10.1002/anie.201504617