Laboratory director

Laboratory director

Dr. Mariano Carrión-Vázquez

Dr. Mariano Carrión-Vázquez

Laboratory Director.

Education. Mariano Carrión-Vázquez studied biology (specialty of biochemistry) in the University of Valencia completing his PhD in molecular neurobiology in 1993 at the Autonomous University of Madrid. Later, in the laboratory of Prof. Julio Fernández he focused on protein nanomechanics, first as a postdoctoral student at the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN) and later as an assistant professor at the Columbia University (New York, NY) where he developed the methodology of polyproteins as unequivocal single-molecule markers.

Dr. Carrión-Vázquez was the first to apply protein engineering to AFM force spectroscopy analysis, a combination that has revealed instrumental for the progress of the field of protein nanomechanics. In particular he has developed the methodology of polyproteins as single-molecule markers, which has allowed demonstrating the power of single-molecule force spectroscopy as a quantitative tool for the study of mechanical properties of proteins and has brought new information that could not be obtained using conventional techniques. Dr. Carrión-Vázquez also established the main model systems that are being used in the protein nanomechanics field: titin I27 module and ubiquitin.

More recently, his group discovered the most mechanostable proteins to date, both folded (cohesin I modules from scaffoldins) and disordered (hyper-mechanostable conformations from neurotoxic proteins). The latter was possible thanks to the development of a new family of vectors (pFS) that overcomes most of the problems in protein nanomechanics including single-molecule identification. He has also discovered a new mechanical element in proteins (the Ca2+ rivet) and the process of mechanical canalization by Ca2+ in cadherins.

Briefly, Dr. Carrión-Vazquez has discovered the universality of the mechanical clamp motif and the characterization of the nanomechanical properties of most important protein modules (Ig, FIII, cadherins, cohesins) of modular proteins (titin, fibronectin, cadherins, scaffoldins) and of several other key proteins in biology (ubiquitin, neurotoxic proteins). He is currently applying protein nanomechanics to investigate the inner workings of the synaptic function (cadherin mechanotransduction, SNARE-mediated membrane fusion) and audition as well as the molecular basis of several disorders (neurodegenerative diseases, non-syndromic hereditary deafness, and memory consolidation through the CPEB prionoid). His achievements can be summarized as followed:

This group has introduced important methodological/technological improvements to the field of protein nanomechanics (the quasi-simultaneous imaging pulling method and a new vector for single-molecule force spectroscopy, pFS) as well as new scientific discoveries: description of the mechanical properties of scaffoldins (most mechanonostable folded proteins) and discovery of the universality of the mechanical clamp motif, description of the mechanical properties of classical cadherins and discovery of the calcium rivet motif, description of the mechanical properties of auditory cadherins, description of the mechanical properties of neurotoxic proteins (most mechanonostable conformations in proteins) and the discovery of their conformational polymorphism, common features at the start of the neurodegeneration cascade and the promiscuity of the QBP1 peptide inhibitor of amyloidogenesis.

Dr. Carrión-Vázquez (CSIC) has trained several PhD students, master students and degree students. Regarding the teaching experience, Dr. Carrión-Vázquez is actively involved as teacher in the Master in Neurosciences and Master in Biophysics of the Autonomous University of Madrid

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