Research Themes

The unifying theme of PROTEO is the understanding of the relationship between the structure of proteins and their biological functions. Our activities differ from those of other groups by the fact that in PROTEO it is not so much the empirical identification (mapping) on one hand and the mechanism on the other hand that is the primary focus. Indeed, we try to understand how the structure affects the functions, how modifications of the structure can improve or inhibit the functionning of fundamentaly important proteins, not only to health sector, but also for environmental sciences and many other industrial sectors. For this purpose, PROTEO must bring together scientists of complementary expertises, a prerequisite to study wide scope issues in protein sciences.

Planning activities and concertation within PROTEO allowed the identification of promising programs benefiting the synergistic action of several members. PROTEO funding is used to consolidate, improve and renew these programs while fostering the capacity of members to innovate in their respective fields. Given the expertise of members, their complementarity and synergies, the collaborative research efforts fall into five strategic themes that involve the protein structure-function relationship and where major breakthroughs are expected. In each theme, key projects taking advantages of the multidisciplinary environment of PROTEO are targeted. For more information, see the research interests of each member in the Scientific Teams section.

Here are our five research themes:

1. Protein-nucleic acid recognition

The interactions between nucleic acids and proteins form the basis of gene transcription and protein synthesis, These vital processes are extremely complex and poorly understood. Because of their biological and biotechnological importance, it is important to understand the phenomenon of protein nucleic acid recognition and to characterize the protein systems involved.

2. Metalloproteins

Metalloproteins have biological roles and physical properties closely related to the presence of one or more metal atoms. PROTEO researchers have made breakthroughs in the understanding of various metalloproteins through their expertise and specialized equipment.

3. Membrane proteins and peptides

Biological membranes are sites where vital transport and signalling phenomena occur in cells. These phenomena are initiated by specialized proteins either on the surface of or inside the lipid membranes. Membrane proteins are very different from globular proteins, and specific spectroscopic techniques are needed to study them. Over the years, our researchers have developed expertise in specific areas of membrane protein and peptide study. A number of innovative key projects have been identified and are currently being carried out by the centre's researchers.

4. Proteins of antimicrobial interest

Antibiotic resistance has become a real plague. To open the way for new generations of antimicrobial agents with a novel mechanism of action, it is imperative to identify resistance proteins and to understand how these proteins act at the molecular level.

5. Industry relevant proteins

Proteins are the molecular factories catalyzing almost every chemical reaction of an organism. Much of the fundamental research performed by PROTEO is therefore likely to be applied in the industry. We have identified strengths in three target research areas and have established key projects requiring a cooperative approach.