Research topics

The secondary structures typically adopted by Aib-rich peptides are the usually the  α-helix and the 310-helix,  which are stable even in very short peptides.
Our research team is currently focusing on the exploitation of conformationally constrained peptides for applications in organic chemistry, physical chemistry, and biophysical chemistry.
The group is currently engaged in the following research lines.

1 - Peptaibiotics

Peptaibiotics are natural lipo-antimicrobial peptides which are particularly familiar to our research group. These peptides are biosynthesized by fungi to protect themselves against aggressors. The name is related to their chemical composition: they are linear peptides of five to twenty amino acids, they are constituted by one or more Aib residues, and bear a C-terminal aminoalcohol. The N-terminus is generally blocked by an acyl group, that is a fatty acid in the shorter members of the family.  

This family of peptides is particularly interesting because:
-  they are composed of few amino acids, thus the synthesis is easier;
-  some of them are selective towards Gram positive or Gram negative membranes;
-  possessing the natural but non proteinogenic amino acid Aib they display significant resistance to the enzymatic degradation;
-  Aib promotes helical secondary structures that may be fundamental for biological activity.

Publications

2 - Antibacterial textiles

The research on antimicrobial textiles is an emerging field. The innovative idea of this research line is the creation of textiles for healthcare environments, characterized by durable antimicrobial power given by well-tolerated peptides.

The  Project relies on the development of cotton textiles with intrinsic capability to combat bacterial and microbe infections.  Known antimicrobial peptides (AMPs)  and their opportunely designed analogs or tailor-made AMPs will be synthesized and linked to cotton samples by means of different synthetic approaches.

Publications

3 - Anticancer Peptides


The peptaibiotic Trichogin GA IV ► citotoxic effects on some tumor cell lines
Designed analogs of Trichogin GA IV ► effects of the charge, hydrophobicity and structural flexibility on antitumor activity
Trichogin has a tunable bioactivity  ►   new generation of potentially interesting antitumor agents

Publications

4 - Peptide-decorated nanoparticles

Peptide nanotechnology: peptido-rotaxanes, peptide-decorated metal nanoparticles, self-assembled peptide polymers.

Publications

5 - Peptide helices as spacers and templates

Peptide helices as spacers and templates

We utilize the conformational stability and predictability of peptides rich in   Ca-tetrasubstituted a-amino acids to design peptide helical segments able to precisely separate (spacers) or to exactly locate spatially (templates) two interacting probes or functional moieties.

Publications

Collaborations

In Italy

  • Prof. L. Stella and Prof. M.Venanzi, University of Roma "Tor Vergata" (biophysical studies)
  • Prof. L. Belvisi and C. Gennari, University of Milano "Bicocca" (antitumor peptides) 
  • Prof. M. Bortolus, University of Padova (EPR studies)

International

  • Prof. S. Oancea, University of Sibiu, Romania (antimicrobial tests)
  • Prof. Yu.D. Tsvetkov, A.D. Milov, Novosibirsk, Russia (EPR spectroscopy studies)
  • N.-H. Ge, University of California Irvine, USA (2D FT-IR)
  • K. Wright, University of Versailles, France (building blocks synthesis)