Structural Biology Laboratory

We apply molecular and structural biology tools to study the basic genetic processes within the cell and to characterise some of the proteins involved. Structural biology is an interdisciplinary research area, requiring expertises from both the life sciences and the physical sciences. We use protein crystallography to determine the atomic structure of these proteins, as well as biochemical and biophysical approaches to understand how they work. Crystallographic studies are complemented by the concomitant use of electron microscopy to visualise the architecture of large complexes and/or small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) to obtain additional structural information.

Our research focus on DNA replication, genome stability and cell signalling. These are crucial events in the cell cycle, underpinning cellular processes with important consequences such as cell proliferation and genome stability. Failure to control these processes causes chromosome instability, which can lead to the development of cellular abnormalities, genetic diseases and the onset of cancer.

Aurora Kinase with antitumor inhibitor
Glu conformation in CNG mimick
EM structure of GINS dimer</span><span style=\"font-size: 12px; line-height: 15.36px;\">
RNA polymerase II subunit Rpb5
Cs+ ions bound to the CNG pore
Crystal structure of PCNA bound to a 10bp DNA duplex
MCM lateral holes
CryoEM map of MthMCM bound to DNA
Proposed cogwheel mechanism for PCNA sliding
MCM double hexamer in the presence of dsDNA
Human Cdc45 SAXS structure
SAXS envelope of RecQ4 in complex with DNA</span><span style=\"font-size: 12px; line-height: 19.2px;\">
RNA polmerase subunits Rpb4/Rpb7
PCNA side chains interacting with DNA</span><span style=\"font-size: 12px; line-height: 19.2px;\">
MCM N-terminal domain
Lysyl-tRNA synthetase
PAF15 bound to human PCNA
SAXS envelope of GINS with Psf1 B domain</span><span style=\"font-size: 12px; line-height: 19.2px;\">
RecQ4 Zn knuckle NMR structure
Aurora Kinase with antitumor inhibitor


Silvia Onesti is giving a lecture on Macromolecular Crystallography at the ICTP School on Synchrotron Light Sources and their Application, from the 23rd of January to the 3rd of February.

Elisa De Piante is giving a talk at "G4ME, the first Italian meeting on G-quadruplexes and other non-canonical nucleic acid structures" (27-28 October, 2022).

Getting ready for SHARPER 2022 (European Researchers' Night)Gianluca Centrone and Manil Kanade, from the AntiHelix Team, will talk about our work at the "Beyond the visible" session, explaining how structural biologists can use the special light from a synchrotron to better understand the cell mechanisms ensuring the integrity of the genome.

The AIC school "Protein structure models, biophysical data and high-performance computing for drug design" will be held in Trieste from the 7th to the 10th of September 2022. Silvia Onesti is chairing the Organising Committe.

Silvia Onesti has been invited to chair the "Structures in Cancer Biology" mycrosymposium within the European Crystallographic Meeting ECM33, held in Versailles (FR), from the 23rd to the 30th of August.

The AIRC grant to Silvia Onesti on "Understanding the role of RecQ4 in cancer development and progression" has been extended by two years (January 2022-December 2023).

2021 SHARPER Night (European Researcher's Night): Meet our team in Piazza Unità on Friday the 24th of September from 17:30 to 18:30, to find out how the cell heals damaged DNA! With Giuseppe Cortone, Manil Kanade, Raghu Hegde, Elisa De Piante, Luisa Napolitano, Silvia Onesti, Antonio Longo.

2021 SHARPER Night (European Researcher's Night): Listen to Elisa De Piante giving a short talk within Street Science! 

Back to work! with social distancing and safety procedures... 

Due to the health emergency, the laboratory is closed! We are working from home, and hope to be soon back in the lab. 

We are on Facebook! If you want to find out more about the laboratory of S. Onesti, our activities, and science in general, follow us on our Facebook page Structural Biology of DNA Replication and Repair.

Our AntiHelix project is now on Facebook! To find out more on helicases, genome maintenance and the development of anti-cancer drugs, follow us on the AntiHelix Facebook page.

Two hands-on schools on Macromolecular Crystallography organised by the Associazione Italiana di Cristallografia (together with Silvia Onesti and Paola Storici) will be held at Elettra, exploiting both the Structural Biology Laboratory facilities and the XRD2 beamline: From Gene to Crystal (21-24 January 2020); From Crystal to Structure (3-6 March 2020). More information at 

The AntiHelix website is live! If you want to find out about our MSCA-ETN project, our activities or in general about helicases, drug design, single molecule studies, DNA replication and repair, genomic instability, clnical oncology, as well as PhD opportunities, training events, interesting conferences in the field, and more... check the AntiHelix Website

Our presence at the Researcher's Night and Trieste NEXT 2019. Here are the appoinments involving our colleagues: Luisa Napolitano at Street Science "Fare Luce sul Cancro"; Paola Storici at the Elettra Stand "Proteine a Raggi X"; Silvia Onesti at "Sistemi Periodici", dialogo tra Chimica e Letteratura; Silvia Onesti at Teatro Miela "Il futuro della ricerca medica, tra app e nuove tecnologie 

New grant to Silvia Onesti and Luisa Napolitano, starting in October 2019. We have just signed the agreement as recipients of the MSCA-ETN grant AntiHelix. Together with colleagues in Naples, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Sheffield, Essen and Lyon, we will build a consortium of European Laboratories working on human DNA helicases, using complementary experimental approaches with the ultimate aim of designing inhibitors that can act as potential anti-tumor drugs. 

Biophysical approaches to macromolecules and cells: integrated tools for life sciences and medicine. ICTP Advanced School  in cooperation with the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST), 9-20 September 2019, Arusha, Tanzania. Directors: L. Casalis, A. Mohammed Khaled, L. Kikuri, A. Hassanali, M. Nkuoa Ngavuoka, S. Onesti, D. Shadrack.

Elettra has hosted the 3rd Meeting of the TRANS-GLIOMA Consortium on the 11th of January 2019 

Biophysics & Structural Biology at Synchrotrons. Workshop at the University of Cape Town aimed at introducing young African researchers to the power of synchrotron-based facilities in life sciences, with an emphasis on Structural Biology, 17-24 January 2019. S. Onesti is one of the teachers. Registration open!

Our laboratory is part of the INTERREG-funded TRANS-GLIOMA Consortium, which aims to increase cooperation among research institutes, hospitals, universities and companies to promote the development and transfer of innovative biomedical techniques to the field of brain cancerIf you want to find out more, follow us on the Trans-Glioma Facebook page 

New grant to Silvia Onesti, starting in January 2018: "Understanding the role of RecQ4 in cancer development and progression". Financed by the Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro (AIRC)

Welcome to Andrei Gerasimov, from Russia,  who joined us to work with Paola Storici as postdoc to study novel targets for brain tumors' therapies

Congratulations to Giuseppe Cortone for successfully defending his PhD thesis in SISSA, April 2022. 

Congratulations to Marta S. Semrau for successfully defending her PhD thesis in Biomolecular Sciences at University of Trento, February 2022.  

Welcome to Gianluca Centrone, from the UK, who has joined us in January 2021 to work with S. Onesti and Luisa Napolitano as AntiHelix Early Stage Researcher!

Congratulations to Elisa De Piante, who obtained an AIRC Fellowship to work on "Distinct and overlapping roles of human RecQ helicases in the recognition and unwinding of different G4 topologies"

Welcome to Theo Battista, from Rome, who joined us to work with Paola Storici as postdoc on SBDD of SARS-CoV-2 targets. 

Alfredo De Biasio, Assistant Professor at the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST, Saudi Arabia) has been named Young Distinguished Scientist at Elettra: we are looking forward to collaborate more closely with him!

Welcome to Kirtishila Sonkar, who has joined us as ICGEB-Elettra Fellow in November 2021 to work with Silvia Oneesti & Emanuele Buratti (ICGEB).

Welcome to Federica Ruzzier, who has  joined us as laboratory technician. 

Welcome to Elisa De Piante, who has started a PhD in Chemistry in November 2021 under the supervision of S. Onesti, L. Napolitano and C. Giancola (University of Naple)

Welcome to Antonio Longo, who has won a CERIC-Integra fellowship, to join us in November 2020 to carry out a PhD in Chemistry, under the supervision of S. Onesti, R. De Zorzi (University of Trieste) and S. Glatt (Max Plank Research Group, Krakow, PL)

Welcome to Manil Kanade, from IISER Pune, who has (finally!!!) joined us in September 2020 to work with S. Onesti and Luisa Napolitano as AntiHelix Early Stage Researcher!

Congratulations to Elisa De Piante for successfully finishing her Master degree, not only cum laude but also with a special mention!

Congratulations to Sebastiano Baldassar for successfully finishing his Master degree, and for being the first student in the lab discussing the thesis on-line!

We are looking for two bright and motivated PhD students to work with S. Onesti and L. Napolitano, within the MSCA-ETN AntiHelix project ( The positions are subjected to the usual MSCA eligibility rules (not more than 4 year from the degree that allows you to do a PhD, and transnational mobility) and will start in February/March 2020

Congratulations to Ilenia Bagnano for successfully defending her PhD thesis in SISSA, October 2019. 

Congratulation to Antonio Longo for successfully defending his Master thesis in Functional Genomics, at the University of Trieste, October 2019.

Welcome to Raghurama Hegde and Andrea Flores-Ibarra, who have joined us to work on the Trans-Glioma INTERREG project with S. Onesti and P. Storici. 

Welcome to Sebastiano Baldassar, a Master student from the University of Bologna who has joined us in April 2019 to work with S. Onesti. 

Welcome to Elisa De Piante, a Master student from the University of Parma who has joined us in March 2019 to work with S. Onesti. 

Welcome to Antonio Longo, a Master student from the University of Trieste who has joined us in January 2019 to work with S. Onesti. 

Congratulations to Marco Franzon, and Veronica Delsoglio for successfully defending their Master thesis, at the Universities of Trieste and Turin, respecitvely, December 2018.

Welcome to Simone Pirrello, who has started a PhD in the Joint PhD Programme in Molecular Biology under the supervision of S. Onesti, November 2018.

Welcome to Marta Semrau, who has started a PhD at the University of Trento, under the supervision of P. Storici, November 2018.

Congratulation to Simone Pirrello for successfully defending his Master thesis, October 2018.

Welcome to Marco Franzon, Simone Pirrello e Stella Dibenedetto that have joined us to  carry out their Diploma Thesis work, under the supervision of S. Onesti and P. Storici

Older News

INSTRUCT Training Course Advanced methods for the integration of diverse structural data, 19-23 February 2018,  Florence, Italy. Organisers: D. LambaS. OnestiR. Pierattelli, A. Rosato, M. Saviano. Deadline: 15th November 2017

Laboratory and synchrotron X-ray crystallography: applications to emerging countries. IUCr-IUPAP-ICTP Advanced School/OpenLab  in cooperation with the Universitè Assane Seck de Ziguinchor, 20 Novembre - 2 December 2017,  Ziguinchor, Senegal. Organisers: M. Camara, C. Lecomte, H. Merazig, J. Niemela, S. OnestiI. Tonle, M. Zema, S. Scandolo. Deadline: 31st August 2017

Silvia Onesti has been invited by Treccani Cultura to give a lectio magistralis in Rome, on the 14th March 2017. The title of the talk is "Shedding light on proteins: how structural biology can open new pespectives for oncology". The lecture is available on the Treccani website. 

New grant to Paola Storici and Silvia Onesti: "TRANS-GLIOMA: Searching for novel glioblastoma therapies through a translational and transnational platform". Financed within the INTERREG Crossborder Cooperation Programme Italy-Slovenia 2014-2020. 

Silvia Onesti has been a member of the Commission on Biological Macromolecules of the International Union of Cristallography from 2011 to 2017. 

Nano, structural and single molecule approaches to biology: understanding and handling life at higher resolutionICTP Advanced School  in cooperation with Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), 10-17 January 2016, Bangalore, India. Directors: L. Casalis, S. Onesti, M. Prato and C.N.R Rao. 

"Shedding light on Proteins" - The Structural Biology laboratory at Trieste NEXT. The visitors learned about small and large molecules, protein structure and function, observed protein crystals with a microscope, and play with protein folding, using the videogame Foldit. 

Structural Biology: using Synchrotron Radiation to Visualise Biological Molecules. A joint initiative between Elettra and SESAME. ICTP Advanced School. 15-19 December 2014, Adriatico Hotel, Trieste. Directors: S. Onesti and Z. Sayers. 

Silvia Onesti has been nominated as member of the International Programme Committe for the organization of the IUCr 23rd Congress and General Assembly, to be held in Montreal 5-12 August 2014

New grant to Germana Meroni (CBM) and Silvia Onesti: "Structure and function of TRIM32, the ubiquitin ligase mutated in Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy 2H". Financed by the French Muscular Dystrophy Association (AFM Telethon)

New grant to Silvia Onesti: "The human CMG helicase in 3D: structural and functional studies on the single components and the assembly of complex". Financed by the Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro (AIRC)

New grant to Paola Storici, Silvia Onesti and Loredana Casalis: "PROTEO: Cross-border center for protein production for oncological research and diagnostic". Financed within the INTERREG Crossborder Cooperation Programme Italy-Slovenia 2007-2013. 

Structural biology @ Researcher's Night (Piazza Unità d'Italia, Friday 27 Septenber 2013) The Structural Biology Laboratory (led by Barbara Medagli) will be responsible for a stand at the Researcher's Night, presenting the video game FoldIt: Solve puzzles for Science 

Synchrotron radiation techniques and nanotechnologies: a synergic approach to life sciences and medicineICTP Advanced School11-21 November 2013, iThembaLab, Cape Town, South Africa. Directors: L. Casalis and S. Onesti. 

From genes to atomic structures: an introduction to synchrotron-based structural biology. ICTP Advanced School, 23-27 April 2012, Trieste, Adriatico Guesthouse. Directors: S. Onesti and G. Paolucci. The school is a joint initiative between Elettra and SESAME, and aims to introduce the participants to the methodologies used to solve macromolecular structures, using synchrotron radiation single crystal X‑ray diffraction techniques, with particular emphasis on participants coming from countries that are active members of the SESAME consortium.

Congratulations to Denise Liano and Cecilia Rocchi  for successfully defending their Master thesis, December 2017. 

Congratulations to Alfredo De Biasio who moved to Leicester as a Lecturer at the Institute of Structural and Chemical Biology, starting from December 2017. 

Welcome to Giuseppe Cortone, who has joined us for a PhD in Neurobiology (SISSA) under the supervision of S. Onesti, starting from  November 2017. 

Welcome to Veronica Delsoglio, a Master student from the University of Turin who has joined us in October 2017 to work with S. Onesti. 

Welcome to Amaia Gonzalez Magaña, a PhD student from CIC Biogune (Bilbao) who has joined us in August 2017 to work with A. De Biasio & S. Onesti. 

Congratulations to Elda Osmenaj for successfully defending her Master thesis, July 2017. 

 Welcome to Patrycja Kamińska and Patrycja Gralewskafrom Lodz University of Technology, Łódź (Poland), spending two months in our lab with an Erasmus intership from July 2017, under the supervision of S. Onesti and P. Storici 

Congratulations to Alfredo De Biasio for obtaining an extension to the prestigious AIRC iCARE Fellowship, starting from January 2017. 

Congratulations to Nikolas Capra and Lorenzo Zorzut  for successfully defending their Master thesis, March 2017. 

Congratulations to Aditya Mojumdar for obtaining an ICTP TRIL Fellowship, starting in September 2016. 

Congratulations to Amna Abdalla Mohammed Khaled for successfully defending her PhD thesis, April 2016. 

Welcome to Ilenia Bagnano, who has joined us as a PhD student in Functional and Structural Genomics (SISSA) under the supervision of S. Onesti and G. Legname, starting  November 2015. 

Congratulations to Aditya Mojumdar and Patrizia De Crescenzio for successfully defending their PhD thesis, April 2015. 

Welcome to Majid Ali Shah Akhun, a PhD student from the University of Faizalabad (Pakistan) who has obtained an ICTP STEP fellowship starting from November 2014 to work with S. Onesti. 

Welcome to Luisa Napolitano, who has joined the lab as part of a collaboration between V. Torre and A. Laio (SISSA) and S. Onesti. 

Welcome to Amna Abdalla Mohammed Khaled, who has started a PhD in Nanotechnology under the supervision of L. Casalis and S. Onesti, starting  November 2013. 

Welcome to Raheem Ullah, a PhD student from the University of Faizalabad (Pakistan) who has obtained an ICTP STEP fellowship starting from Sept 2012 to work with S. Onesti. 

Welcome to Marta Semrau and Barbara Giabbai, who have joined us to work on the PROTEO INTERREG project with P. Storici. 

Welcome to Juliano Morimoto Borges, from the University of Cutiriba (Brazil) who has obtained a CNPq fellowship (Science without borders) to join us for a year, under the supervision of S. Onesti (Mar 2012- Feb 2013). 

Medhat El-Halawany (Cairo University) has obtained a TALENTS for an International House Fellowship to work on the "Structure and function of TRIM E3 ligases in the ubiquitylation cascade" as part of a collaboration between Germana Meroni (CBM) and Silvia Onesti, starting in November 2011. 

Welcome to our two new PhD studentsAditya Mojumdar (from India, via Sweden!) and Patrizia Di Crescenzo, starting in 2012. 


Ultima modifica il Martedì, 31 Gennaio 2023 22:42