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Institute of Biosciences and Bioresources

National Research Council of Italy

Marco Moracci

Role: Associated Staff
Section: Associate Members
Division: Naples
Tel: (39) 081-6132-271
E-mail: marco.moracci@ibbr.cnr.it
URL: http://www.ibp.cnr.it/staff-activities/researcher/moracci-marco


Research Interests

Our studies are focused on the understanding of the structure/function relationship of protein and enzymes and on the mechanicistic aspects of the enzymatic hydrolysis and synthesis of glycosides. Our model systems are the enzymes from (hyper)thermophilic microorganisms, mainly Archaea, which are considered the extant organisms closest to the early forms of life on Earth.

Current Projects

The group’s major projects are:

  • Cultivation of hyperthermophiles, cloning and expression of genes encoding carbohydrate active enzymes for the characterization of their role in vivo and for their exploitation in biotechnological applications (agro-food, biofuels, pharmaceutical industry, bio-medicine).
  • Study of gene expression in Archaea at transcriptional and translational level to understand the basic mechanisms of the transfer of genetic information and to trace the origin and evolution of life on Earth. These studies recently led to the identification, for the first time in Archaea, of the translational recoding event named programmed -1 frameshifting.
  • Modification and kinetic/structural characterization of enzymes from hyperthermophiles to identify the molecular determinants of thermal activity and thermostability.
  • Modification and detailed kinetic characterization of hyperthermophilic glycoside hydrolases to understand their reaction mechanism, the catalytic machinery, and the substrate specificity.
  • Production of engineered glycosidases, which synthesise, but do not degrade oligosaccharides (glycosynthases). These mutant enzymes have interesting potential applications in pharmaceutical industry and in biomedicine.

Studied enzymes include b-glucosidases, b-galactosidases, a-L-fucosidases, a-mannosidases, a-xylosidases, b-glucanases and others. We use a variety of techniques, including microbiology, molecular biology, protein chemistry, site-directed mutagenesis, enzyme kinetics and inhibition. These approaches are coupled with organic chemistry in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Naples “Federico II”. In addition, we are now approaching glycobiology and glycomics of the hyperthermophilic Archaea in collaboration with the unit of mass spectrometry of the IBP.

 

Selected Publications
(full list available at CNR People)

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