Laboratory for Molecular Microbiology
Homologous genetic recombination is a fundamental process that has two major roles in living cells:
- facilitate DNA repair, thus maintaining chromosome integrity, and
- to rearrange genes within and between chromosomes, thereby promoting genetic diversity.
The right balance between these two roles of recombination contributes considerably to cell survival and evolution. The main goal of our research is to get new insights into molecular mechanisms of DNA recombination and repair in prokaryotes, thus broadening the general knowledge of cell function and evolution.
Our research on Escherichia coli is focused on elucidating the role of nucleases and helicases in the repair of DNA damage, either that occurring spontaneously during normal cell growth (more), or that induced by different external agents (e.g. UV radiation, ionizing radiation, chemicals, etc.) (more). A special attention has been paid to functional interactions between different nucleases and RecBCD enzyme.
During evolution, bacterial cells have acquired a number of nucleases with overlapping activities, indicating the great importance of these enzymes in the maintenance of genome structure and function.
Our research on Deinococcus radiodurans is aimed at revealing molecular mechanisms of DNA repair that enables highly efficient and precise reconstitution of bacterial genome shattered by ionizing radiation, and which underlies the extreme radiation resistance of this bacterium. This study could help us to better understand the strategies developed by living organisms to survive extreme conditions (such as radiation or desiccation) that cause extensive damage to all cellular components, including DNA (more).