Biochemical and biophysical processes occurring at the level of the membranes of human cells, as well as of their viral and bacterial pathogens. Study of the two steps of the life cycle of enveloped viruses (mainly HIV-1 and dengue virus) that involve biomembranes – the entrance of the virus or its content into the target cell and the assembly of new virions. Study of the binding of fibrinogen to the erythrocyte membrane and its relevance as cardiovascular risk factor. Pre-clinical evaluation of the membrane activity and mechanism of action at the molecular level of antimicrobial peptides (AMP) and cell-penetrating peptides (CPP). On the Nanotechnology / Nanomedicine area, the structural characterization of metal nanoparticles conjugated with proteins or nucleic acids, for biomedical application.
» Research Areas
» Group Leader
» Research Team
PhD (1999) at University of Lisbon.
Research at the Technical University of Lisbon and at the University of California, Santa Barbara (USA).
Awarded the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Prize (2001) and the José Luís Champalimaud Prize on HIV Research (2004 and 2005).
Assistant Professor with Habilitation at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon.
» Ongoing Research Projects
2007/11 Fibrinogen-dependent signalling in microvascular blood cell function – implications of inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Coordenadora: C. Saldanha. FCT - PTDC/SAU-OSM/73449/2006.
2007/10 The role of lipid membranes in the dengue virus cell infection. Coordenador: M. Castanho. FCT - PTDC/QUI/69937/2006.
2007/10 Metal- and magnetic nanoparticles functionalized with biological molecules: towards bio-nanoprobes. Coordenador: E. Pereira. FCT - PTDC/QUI/64484/2006.
2009/11 Interacção da proteína capsídica do vírus da dengue com membranas e corpúsculos lipídicos – Relevância para a patogénese viral. Coordenador: N.C. Santos. FCT-CAPES Project.
2010/13 Cell membrane features in HIV entry and its inhibition. Coordenador: N.C. Santos. FCT - PTDC/QUI-BIQ/104787/2008.
2010/13 Inherent antibacterial activity in peptide-based hydrogels for tissue regeneration. Coordenador: A.S. Veiga. FCT - PTDC/SAU-BEB/099142/2008.
2010/13 MEMPEPACROSS: Membrane-active peptides across disciplines and continents: An integrated approach to find new strategies to fight bacteria, dengue virus and neurodegeneration. Coordinator: N.C. Santos. Programme “People” – Marie Curie International Research Staff Exchange Scheme – Call identifier: FP7-PEOPLE-2009-IRSES. Coordenador: N.C. Santos.
2010/13 Atomic force microscopy-based molecular recognition of fibrinogen receptors in platelets and erythrocytes. Applications in health and disease. Coordenador: N.C. Santos. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
2010/13 The interplay between lipid droplets, RNA and the capsid protein during dengue virus assembly and encapsidation. Coordenador: I.C. Martins. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
2011/4 LIPIDENGUE: The role of hepatic lipid membranes and lipid droplets in Dengue virus encapsidation. A gateway to new therapies. Coordenador: M. Castanho. FCT - PTDC/QUI-BIQ/112929/2009.
FCT VIH/SAU/0047/2011, "Multi-target HIV entry inhibitors delivery by cationic liposomes". Coordenadora: Salomé Veiga.
» Science and Society Activities
David Andreu (Barcelona, Spain)
Robert Ariens (Leeds, UK)
Andrea Da Poian (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Eleonora Kurtenbach (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Marcel Tabak (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Gregory Melikian (Atlanta, USA)
Benhur Lee (Los Angeles, USA)
The elements of the Unit have been involved in public understanding of science activities through mass media contacts, presentations about Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics in high schools and Science Museums, and by welcoming in the lab students of the Ciência Viva Program of the Portuguese Ministery of Science.
» Selected Publications
2010 Research Programme in Frontiers of Life Sciences from Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (Ivo Martins).
2009 Gulbenkian Prize to Stimulus for Research 2009 (Marco M. Domingues).
2005 José Luís Champalimaud Prize on HIV Research (Applied Research and Technologies area).
2004 José Luís Champalimaud Prize on HIV Research (Basic Research area).
2001 Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Prize (for researchers under 31).
» Useful Links
F.A. Carvalho, F.A. Carneiro, IC Martins, I. Assunção-Miranda, A.F. Faustino, R.M. Pereira, P.T. Bozza, M.A. Castanho, R. Mohana-Borges, A.T. Da Poian, N.C. Santos (2012) Dengue virus capsid protein binding to hepatic lipid droplets (LD) is potassium ion dependent and is mediated by LD surface proteins, J. Virol. 86(4), 2096-108.
F.A. Carvalho, S. de Oliveira, T. Freitas, S. Gonçalves, N.C. Santos (2011) Variations on fibrinogen-erythrocyte interactions during cell aging, PLoS ONE, 6, e18167.
P.M. Matos, H.G. Franquelim, M.A.R.B. Castanho, N.C. Santos (2010) Quantitative assessment of peptide–lipid interactions. Ubiquitous fluorescence methodologies., Biochim. Biophys. Acta, 1798, 1999-2012.
P.M. Matos, M.A.R.B. Castanho, N.C. Santos (2010) HIV-1 fusion inhibitor peptides enfuvirtide and T-1249 interact with erythrocyte and lymphocyte membranes, PLoS ONE, 5, e9830.
F.A. Carvalho, S. Connell, G. Miltenberger-Miltenyi, S.V. Pereira, A. Tavares, R.A.S. Ariëns, N.C. Santos (2010) Atomic force microscopy-based molecular recognition of a fibrinogen receptor on human erythrocytes, ACS Nano, 4, 4609-4620.