Mechanism of host-pathogen recognition

Rice, like other plants, has immune receptors represented largely by the family of NLR proteins. Some of these proteins have an integrated decoy domain involved in the recognition of pathogenic fungal effectors. By complementary approaches of structural biology and in planta test we could identify the mechanisms of interaction between these partners.

This collaborative work between the "Structure, Dynamics and Function of Biomolecules by NMR" team of the CBS, the "Interactions of Cereal Agents with Pathogenic Agents" team at BGPI and the agrobiotechnology laboratory in Beijing has been published in PNAS magazine (


CBS Lifetime Seminar Series

This year, the Centre of Structural Biochemistry is organizing a series of seminars on topics related to the LifeTime Initiative.

If you want to meet any of the seminarists, make sure you contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Philipp Maass, University of Toronto

Misplaced inter-chromosomal organization causes shortened fingers

September 30th, 2,30 pm, CBS seminar Room, 29 rue de Navacelles



Marcelo Rubinstein, University of Buenos Aires

Molecular and functional genetics of the proopiomelanocortin gene, food intake regulation and obesity

October 3rd, 11am, CBS seminar Room, 29 rue de Navacelles



Jeff Moffitt, Harvard Medical School

Constructing tissue atlases with massively multiplexed RNA imaging

October 17th, 11am, CBS seminar Room, 29 rue de Navacelles



Vera Pancaldi, CRCT Toulouse

Studying chromatin organization using networks: transcription, replication and beyond

December 12ve, 11am, CBS seminar Room, 29 rue de Navacelles


Insights into the "cocktail effect" of endocrine disruptors

Chemicals which taken in isolation are safe for humans may become harmful when mixed . The team of William Bourguet in Structural Biochemistry Center (Inserm / CNRS / University of Montpellier), together with teams from the Cancer Research Institute (IRCM ) and the Functional Genomics Institute (IGF ) in Montpellier elucidated in vitro a molecular mechanism that may contribute to this phenomenon known as the "cocktail effect".

New publication: "Synergistic activation of human pregnane X receptor by binary cocktails of pharmaceutical and environmental compounds"
Authors: Delfosse V, Dendele B, Huet T, Grimaldi M, Boulahtouf A, Gerbal-Chaloin S, Beucher B, Roecklin D, Muller C, Rahmani R, Cavaillès V, Daujat-Chavanieu M, Vivat V, Pascussi JM, Balaguer P, Bourguet W.
Journal: Nat Communication 2015 Sep 3;6:8089.


New Structure of a Protein Modulating Bacterial Gene Silencing

Antibiotic resistance and the appearance of new virulent bacterial strains constitute a major threat to human health. The problem is aggravated by the transfer of resistance and virulence genes between bacteria (horizontal gene transfer). In this context, a detailed knowledge of the mechanisms allowing bacteria to tolerate the acquisition of foreign DNA is lacking and it may open the way to new sustainable strategies to fight infectious diseases infectious diseases.

Here we describe a structural model for the complex between Hha and H-NS proteins which selective represses genes in Enterobacteria acquired by horizontal transfer. We found a charge zipper formed by interdigitation of residues from three proteins stabilizes the complex. Charge zippers provide selectivity to electrostatic protein complexes and understanding selective gene silencing may help fighting antibiotic resistance

New publication: "A Three-protein Charge Zipper Stabilizes a Complex Modulating Bacterial Gene Silencing"
Authors: Tiago N. Cordeiro, Jesús García, Pau Bernadó, Oscar Millet et Miquel Pons
Journal: Biol Chem. 2015 Aug 28;290(35):21200-12
Link to this article

Activation Mechanism of the Morphine Receptor Revealed

A close collaboration between the team of Sebastien Granier (IGF) in Montpellier, Hélène Déméné (CBS, team "NMR, Structure, Dynamics and Function of Biomolecules by NMR") and the team of Prof. Brian Kobilka of Stanford University, Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2012, helped to decipher the molecular mechanisms of activation of the morphine receptor. This receptor, also called mu opioid receptor (μOR) was investigated using combining X-ray crystallography and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). The morphine receptor is a membrane protein belonging to the family of G protein coupled receptors (GPCR) whose operating mechanism is not well known. This lack of knowledge is partly due to the difficulties encountered in the investigation of these membrane proteins by structural biology approaches. This study has been published in the scientific journal Nature (Sounier et al, Nature, 524 (7565). -doi 375-8: 10.1038 / nature14680).

The NMR study reveals how the binding of a ligand that mimics morphine (agonist) induces changes in conformational states of μOR from an inactive state to an active state. This active state is the only one capable to lead to intracellular signal transduction via activation of signaling proteins such as G protein. The study also shows that the active state can be achieved only if the agonist and G protein are linked to the receiver simultaneously. This property was previously observed for only one of the 800 members that make up the family of GPCRs. Thus, the study reveals how the activation signal propagates through the different areas of the receptor and proposes that this process plays a key role in signal transduction. Overall, these data shed light on the little known process of activation of GPCRs and its dynamics.

New publication: "Propagation of conformational changes during μ-opioid receptor activation" 
Authors: Sounier R, Mas C, Steyaert J, Laeremans T, Manglik A, Huang W, Kobilka BK, Déméné H, Granier S.
Journal: Nature. 2015 Aug 20;524(7565):375-8. doi: 10.1038/nature14680.

Link to this article