Our laboratory

The Architecture et Fonction des Macromolécules Biologiques (AFMB) laboratory, overseen by the CNRS and AMU, is a center of structural biology localized on the Luminy campus in the South of Marseilles, France, and in partnership with INRA under contract. The aim of our researches is to depict the architecture of proteins or macromolecular assemblies at the molecular level to understand the biological mechanisms which they govern. The description of interactions between macromolecules or a macromolecule and a ligand is also crucial to manipulate these complex molecules. Finally, to understand the molecular diversity of members of some protein families, we also analyze the big data issued from large-scale genome sequencing centers.

  • Monday 14th of January at 11am: Antonella Fioravanti, VIB-VUB Center for Structural Biology, Brussels, Belgium, "Characterisation and targeting of the Bacillus anthracis’ armor: the new way to fight Anthrax"

    Abstract (...)

    Abstract Anthrax is a highly resilient and deadly disease caused by the spore-forming bacterial pathogen Bacillus anthracis. Today, anthrax mostly affects wildlife and livestock, but remains a concern for human public health primarily in persons handling contaminated animal products and as a bioterror threat due to the high resilience of spores, the high case-fatality rate even with the aggressive use of antibiotics and the lack of a civilian vaccine program. As part of its immune evasion strategy, the bacterium presents a dynamic cellular surface with a complex composition. In its vegetative form, the cell surface of B. anthracis is covered by one of two protective protein arrays known as the Sap or EA1 S-layer (surface layer), present during exponential and stationary growth phase, respectively. The self-assembling characteristic of these S-layer proteins has thus far hampered their detailed structural and biophysical characterization. Successfully, I applied Nanobodies (Nbs) as a bio-tool to control Sap polymerization and to accomplish its crystallization and structure determination, unveiling a new class of S-layer proteins with a novel mechanism of assembly independent of calcium. Amongst the isolated Nbs I was also able to identify Sap inhibitory nanobodies that prevented Sap assembly and depolymerized existing Sap S-layers in vitro. When applied in vivo, nanobody-mediated effacement of the Sap S-layer resulted in severe morphological defects and proved bacteriostatic unlike the genetic knockout of sap. Encouraged by these findings, anti-Sap S-layer inhibitors are being developed as new promising tools to fight anthrax disease. To date, this novel anti S-layer Nanobody therapy resulted in clearance of ongoing B. anthracis infection in a mouse model curing them of lethal anthrax. These findings expose, for the first time ever, disruption of S-layer integrity as a mechanism with therapeutic potential in S-layer carrying pathogens.
    All seminars
  • The AFMB lab and IMM institute set up a new Master-2 course on cryo-electron microscopy (CE2M)

  • Congratulations to Bernard Henrissat and Pedro Coutinho who are on the Highly Cited list of Clarivate in 2018, for the 5th consecutive year!

  • End of 2018 the AFMB lab celebrated its 30th anniversary and the CAZy database its 20th!
Positions Available

AFMB - UMR7257 CNRS - Aix-Marseille Univ. - Case 932
163 Avenue de Luminy 13288 Marseille CEDEX 09 FRANCE

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