Group Leader/s



Group members (left to right): Andrea Flores, Mercedes Spínola, Federico M. Ruiz, Elena Santillana, Irene Davó, Antonio Romero and Javier Medrano.

Infectious diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide and are a major challenge for public health. Despite recent advances in biochemical and structural studies of a series of pathogenic factors, a better understanding of targets involved in antibiotic resistance and microbial pathogenesis and how they are transferred is important to combat infectious diseases. Approaches to combat bacterial infection rely on, 1) the disruption of the bacteria growth cycle by preventing the synthesis and assembly of key components of bacterial processes and, 2) by inhibition of virulence traits.

Our goal is to better understand the pathogenic mechanisms developed by gram-negative organisms (A. baumannii, P. aeruginosa, ..) in infection, using a structural approach.


1. β-lactamases and bacterial toxin-antitoxin systems. The number of class D carbapenemases identified in hospitals worldwide continues to grow significantly. Most of them have been isolated from gram-negative pathogens. Our more recent efforts attempt to correlate resistance mutations in new subfamilies of oxacillinases for the design of new antimicrobial agents.

Furthermore, we are focusing in the structural characterization of the AbkA/AbkB toxin-antitoxin system in A. baumannii, related to virulence and involved in the successful dissemination of plasmids carrying the blaOXA-24/40-like gene, thus contributing to the plasmid stability.

2. Type VI secretion system (T6SS). Due to the difficulties inherent to this system, we have designed a strategy to address each individual component and subsequent assembly in silico. We have solved the crystal structure of Hcp (TssD) of A. baumannii characterizing the aggregation state by electron microscopy. Policlonal antibodies against Hcp confirmed that the T6SS of A. baumannii is active and functional in the AB0057 strain and in other different nosocomial strains of diverse origins. Very recently, we reported the crystal structure of VgrG1 from P. aeruginosa. Our study reveals several remarkable structural features pointing to the possible roles of the two main segments of VgrG1: the head as a scaffold cargo domain and the β-roll spike with implications in the cell-membrane puncturing process and as a carrier of cognate toxins.



Team Image


MINECO (BFU2016-77835-R) (2017-2019)

MINECO (BFU2014-55448-P) (2015-2016)

FP7-PEOPLE-2012-ITN (2012-2016)

CM S2010/BMD2353 (2012-2016)

MICINN (BFU2011-24615) (2011-2014)

MICINN CONSOLIDER-INGENIO (CSD2009-00088) (2011-2016)


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X-Ray equipment

Honeybee X8 crystallization robot