Structural Microbiology Laboratory

Group leader
David Albesa-Jové
+34 94 601 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.

Group members

Albesa-Jové D*, Sainz-Polo MÁ, Marina A, Guerin ME* (*Corresponding author). 

Structural Snapshots of α-1,3-Galactosyltransferase with Native Substrates: Insight into the Catalytic Mechanism of Retaining Glycosyltransferases.
Angew Chemie Int. Ed. 2017, 56:14853–14857.

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, 35:1613–1627

Albesa-Jové D, Svetlíková Z, Tersa M, Sancho-Vaello E, Carreras-González A, Bonnet P, Arrasate P, Eguskiza A, Angala SK, Cifuente JO, et al.

Structural basis for selective recognition of acyl chains by the membrane-associated acyltransferase PatA.
Nat Commun 2016, 7:10906.

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

A Native Ternary Complex Trapped in a Crystal Reveals the Catalytic Mechanism of a Retaining Glycosyltransferase.
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 54: 9898-9902.

Nolan, L.M., Cain, A.K., Clamens, T. et al.

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 6, 1199–1210 (2021).

Amaia González-Magaña, M. Ángeles Sainz-Polo, Gabirela Pretre, Retina Çapuni, María Lucas, Jon Altuna, Itxaso Montánchez, Paola Fucini, David Albesa-Jové

Structural insights into Pseudomonas aeruginosa Type six secretion system exported effector 8
Journal of Structural Biology 212 (2020) 107651

David Albesa-Jové, Javier Romero-García,Enea Sancho-Vaello, F.-Xabier Contreras, Ane Rodrigo-Unzueta, Natalia Comino, Ana Carreras-González, Pedro Arrasate, Saioa Urresti, Xevi Biarnés, Antoni Planas, and Marcelo E. Guerin

Structural Snapshots and Loop Dynamics along the Catalytic Cycle of Glycosyltransferase GpgS
Structure 25, 1034–1044