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PP8 - UNIUD - University of Udine - DISA and DSMB

Anti-microbial peptides; novel anti-infective drugs. Plant-based models of drug transport.


DESCRIPTION OF ORGANIZATION/DEPARTMENT

The University of Udine is a public institution founded in 1978 as part of the reconstruction plan of Friuli after the earthquake in 1976. It is devoted to higher education, research and technology transfer. The University is currently organized into 14 departments that cover the areas of agriculture, economics, engineering, law, modern languages, educational sciences, humanities, medicine and surgery, veterinary medicine and mathematical, physical and natural sciences. It has currently approx. 17000 enrolled students, over 700 teaching staff and 500 administrative staff. The University is actively involved in student and staff exchange projects with universities within the EU and other non-EU countries and participates in many national and international research projects.
 
 


TECHNOLOGIES AND EXPERTISE AVAILABLE

Microbiology: screening of antibacterial and antifungal agents by growth inhibition assays (MIC, time-killing, growth kinetic assays); functional assays (vital dye uptake, mitochondrial-plasma membrane potential dyes, enzymatic assays); biofilm development; endotoxin determination (LAL test).
Molecular and cell biology: mammalian and plant cell cultures; functional assays (enzymatic assays and potentiometric dyes), morphological analysis (optical and confocal microscopy); flow cytometry; gene expression analysis (Real-Time PCR); programmed cell death analysis (annexin V/PI labelling, TUNEL, DNA laddering, cytochrome c release).
Mitochondrial biochemistry: purification of plant and animal cell mitochondria, functional assays.
Protein/peptide chemistry and immunochemistry: Fmoc solid phase synthesis of peptides, fluorescent labelling, HPLC purification, UV and CD spectroscopy, spectrofluorimetry, 2D-electrophoresis, electro-endosmotic preparative electrophoresis (ELFE), Ab purification, dot-blot and Western blot analysis, immunofluorescence.
 
 


FIELD OF RESEARCH/ACTIVITIES 

Plant Biology: The most relevant research fields concern some plant biochemical and physiological subjects focused on cell transport, respiration and oxidative stress, as well as programmed cell death.
In particular, physiological studies aim at characterizing flavonoid transport in plant cells and their role in the response to stress. Another research line concerns plant energetic metabolism by performing assays on pyrophosphate and pyrophosphatase activity and on the energetic metabolism during somatic embryogenesis of conifers. Further studies try to elucidate the permeability transition in plant mitochondria and its role in the manifestation of programmed cell death. Other research topics deal with the post-harvest and storage metabolism, evaluating the oxidative stress in recalcitrant seeds (coffee and holm oak) and the effect of light on the conservation of plants at low temperature.
Another line of research concerns taxonomy of flowering plants and geobotany, as well as algae biology and ecology, with the aim to study both species diffusion and their dynamics in natural and anthropic environments.
Current research activities undertaken within the Trans2Care Project include: characterization with immunochemical methods and purification by means of molecular biology techniques of a grape protein similar to mammalian bilitranslocase (in collaboration with PP10 – Blood Transfusion Centre of Slovenia); identification and quantification of BTL-like protein during grape berry maturation stages; purification of the mammalian bilitranslocase from rat liver and characterization of the transport of chlorophyll degradation products performed by a bilitranslocase–like protein in green tissues of Pisum sativum (in collaboration with LP – University of Trieste).
 
Antimicrobial Peptides (AMPs): functional characterization of the antimicrobial peptides of the innate immune system as mediators of host defence and as templates for the development of novel anti-infective drugs for human and veterinary application. In addition to potent and broad-spectrum antimicrobial activities, some AMPs display anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects and hold promise as novel anti-infective agents combining antibiotic and immunostimulating properties. In the framework of the Trans2Care Project, a joint effort has been undertaken in collaboration with LP (University of Trieste) and PP11 (Valdoltra Orthopaedic Hospital) to characterize the functional role of selected AMPs of the cathelicidin family in prosthetic joint infection/inflammation. The goal is that of identifying suitable candidates for application in arthroplasty, that will be exploited by PP11 to develop novel AMP-based infection-resistant coatings for arthroplasty implants.
 
 


LINKS WITH COMPANIES

-ELECTROLUX: research concerning the quality of vegetables stored at low temperature. Effect of illumination, in combination with temperature, in changes of the quantity of antioxidants inside vegetables.

-ILLY CAFFE': research in lipid metabolism during storage of seeds.
-NOVAMONT: study on the prevention of oxidative degradation during prolonged seed storage, by means of specific bio-plastic bags produced by this company.


MAIN NEEDS

Economic support for experimental activities and for the maintenance of the staff members inside the lab.


KEY WORDS

Biochemistry, plant biology, plant-based models of drug transport, antimicrobial peptides, novel anti-infective drugs.

 

 
University of Udine - DISA and DSMB
  Enrico Braidot (DISA)
DISA - Via delle Scienze 206 33100 UDINE
Italy