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A gateway to realm of structural data for biochemists, biophysicists, molecular biologist, and all scientists whose research benefits from accurate structure determination of biological macromolecules, assemblies, and complex molecular machineries at atomic resolution.

Open access to 10 high-end core facilities and assisted expertise in NMR, X-ray crystallography and crystallization, cryo-electron microscopy and tomography, biophysical characterization of biomolecular interaction, nanobiotechnology, proteomics and structural mass spectrometry.

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Highlights of Coronavirus Structural Studies

Coronavirus Archive

Research Highlights

the best of science obtained using CIISB Core Facilities

Science 2020

Nature Index Journal

(−)-Bactobolin A and selected related natural products.

(A) Overall structure of ovine complex I. Core subunits necessary for the reaction of complex I are labeled with corresponding colors, and mammalian supernumerary subunits are shown in gray. NADH and quinone binding sites are indicated. The membrane arm contains four separate proton-pumping channels: three in the antiporter-like subunits ND2, ND4, and ND5 and one in the E-channel, composed of subunits ND1, ND6, and ND4L. Q, quinone. 

Leonid A. Sazanov Research Group


Complex I is the first and, with 45 subunits and a total mass of ~1 MDa, the most elaborate of the mitochondrial electron transfer chain enzymes. Complex I converts energy stored in chemical bonds into a proton gradient across the membrane that drives the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the universal energy currency of the cell. In each catalytic cycle, the transfer of two electrons from nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) to a hydrophobic electron carrier quinone, which happens in the peripheral arm of the enzyme, is coupled to the translocation of four protons across the inner mitochondrial membrane in the membrane arm. The exact mechanism of this energy conversion currently presents an enigma because of complex I’s size and the spatial separation between the two reactions.

To understand the coupling mechanism of complex I, we solved its cryo–electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structures in five different conditions, including the substrate- and inhibitor-bound states and during active turnover, unlocking the various conformations that the enzyme goes through during the catalytic cycle. We also improved the resolution to up to 2.3 to 2.5 Å, allowing us to directly observe water molecules critical for proton pumping.

Kampjut, D.and Sazanov, L.A. The coupling mechanism of mammalian respiratory complex I

Science, 2020, 370, eabc4209,



Angew. Chem. Int. Edit. 2020

Nature Index Journal

The concept of extended MCRs with indolealdehydes.

Rodolfo Lavilla Research Group


The participation of reactants undergoing a polarity inversion along a multicomponent reaction, allows the continuation of the transformation with productive domino processes. Thus, indole aldehydes in Groebke-Blackburn-Bienaymé reactions lead to an initial adduct which spontaneously triggers a series of events leading to the discovery of novel reaction pathways together with a direct access to a variety of linked, fused and bridged polyheterocyclic scaffolds. Indole 3- and 4-carbaldehydes with suitable isocyanides and aminoazines afford fused adducts through oxidative Pictet-Spengler processes, whereas indole 2-carbaldehyde yields linked indolocarbazoles under mild conditions, and a bridged macrocycle at high temperature. These novel structures are potent activators of the human aryl hydrocarbon receptor signaling pathway.

Ghashghaei, O., Pedrola, M., Seghetti, F., Martin, V.V., Zavarce, R., Babiak, M., Novacek, J., Hartung, F., Rolfes, K.M.,  Haarmann-Stemmann, T., and Lavilla, R.: Extended Multicomponent Reactions with Indole Aldehydes: Access to Unprecedented Polyheterocyclic Scaffolds, Ligands of the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor  Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. on line


More publications Research Highlights archive

Reader’s Corner

literature to read, science to follow

In this section, a distinct selection of six highly stimulating research publications and reviews published during past 6 months is presented. It is our hope that links to exciting science, which deserves attention of the structural biology community, will help you to locate gems in the steadily expanding jungle of scientific literature. You are welcome to point out to any paper you found interesting by sending a link or citation to The section is being updated regularly.


Reader’s Corner Archive

Quote of November

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”

Albert Einstein