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Stefano Luciano Ciurli

Professor

Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology

Academic discipline: CHIM/03 General and Inorganic Chemistry

Director of Second Cycle Degree of Molecular and industrial biotechnology

Research

Keywords: Bioinorganic Chemistry Biomodelling Biomolecular NMR spectroscopy Metallo-chaperons Urease X-ray absorption spectroscopy Nickel Biochemical metal trafficking Enzymatic catalysis Biocrystallography

The main interest of my research activity is the elucidation of the role of metals found in biomolecules. The final goal is the identification of the molecular structure of the active site of metallo-enzymes, and the elucidation of structure-function relationships.  The objective is to determine how the chemistry of the metal ion is modulated by the protein matrix, and thus to determine the mode of interaction with the substrate or with other proteins.
Proteins from bacteria living in waters and soils are purified, and their biochemical characterization is performed. Then, by applying sophisticated physical methods such as mono- and multidimensional NMR spectroscopy, EPR, Mössbauer, circular dichroism, magnetic susceptibility, bioelectrochemistry, X-ray spectroscopy (EXAFS), Raman and crystallography the structure of the active site is elucidated at the molecular level.  Subsequently, mechanistic studies of the protein-substrate or protein-protein interactions are carried out using classic kinetic measurements or, for the photosynthesis-related projects, laser-induced rapid transient kinetics.  Molecular mechanics and dynamics are used to model protein-substrate and protein-protein interactions. On-going research projects involve the biochemistry of metallo-enzymes involved in the nitrogen, phosphorous and sulfur cycles in the environment, and the biochemistry of photosynthesis.

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