Institut de Biologie StructuraleGrenoble / France

Contact person(s) related to this article / DESSEN Andrea

Bacterial Pathogenesis Group

Directed by : Andrea DESSEN , Ph.D. (CNRS Senior researcher) (BR)

CNRS silver medal 2021

Charles-Louis de Saulses de Freycinet Prize 2015
Medal, French Academy of Sciences


The Bacterial Pathogenesis group has a main laboratory in France (IBS Grenoble) and, since 2012, an ’antenna’ in Brazil (LNBio Campinas). This organization is supported by the CNRS, the CEA, and the University of Grenoble in the form of a ’Laboratoire International Associé’ (LIA BACWALL), and is supported by the São Paulo Foundation for Scientific Research (FAPESP).

Research topics

Our group is interested in studying mechanisms employed by bacteria to initiate infection by tackling a number of different systems :

- The bacterial cell wall : macromolecular complexes and antibiotic development targets
- Virulence factors and secretion systems

Grenoble Team

Permanent members :
- Alexandre DOS DANTOS MARTINS (CEA Technician) (PT)
- Carlos CONTRERAS-MARTEL, Ph.D. (CNRS Staff scientist) (CL)
- Pauline MACHEBOEUF, Ph.D. (CNRS Staff scientist) (FR)

Post-doctoral scientists :

Ph.D. students :
- Jean-Mathieu DESVEAUX (FR)
- Kevin DUARTE (FR)

Trainees :
- Michael JENKINS (IR)

Campinas Team

Permanent members :
- Daniel TRINDADE, Ph.D. (BR)

Post-doctoral scientists :

Ph.D. students :

Masters students :

Specialized techniques

We employ techniques ranging from molecular biology (site directed mutagenesis, polycistronic gene expression) and classical biochemistry (expression/purification of recombinant proteins, chemical cross-linking, enzymatic analyses), X-ray crystallography to electron microscopy in order to correlate the structure of a protein, protein-ligand or a multi-protein complex to its function either within the cell or during the infectious process.


Bacterial infection, macromolecular machineries, structural biology.

Ph.D. theses

A list of Ph.Ds. in the BP group can be found here here.

Key publications


Miyachiro MM, Granato D, Trindade DM, Ebel C, Paes Leme AF, Dessen A (2019) Complex formation between Mur enzymes from Streptococcus pneumoniae. Biochemistry, in press

Howard SP, Estrozi L, Bertrand Q, Contreras-Martel C, Job V, Martins A, Schoehn G, Dessen A (2019) Structure and assembly of pilotin-dependent and -independent secretins of the Type II secretion system. PLoS Pathog. 15 : e1007731.

Laddomada F, Miyachiro MM, Jessop M, Patin D, Job V, Mengin-Lecreulx D, Le Roy A, Ebel C, Breyton C, Gutsche I, Dessen A (2019) The MurG glycosyltransferase provides an oligomeric scaffold for the cytoplasmic steps of peptidoglycan biosynthesis in Bordetella pertussis. Sci. Rep., 9 : 4656.

Lombardi C, Tolchard J, Bouillot S, Signor L, Gebus C, Liebl D, Fenel D, Teulon J-M, Habenstein B, Pellequer J-L, Faudry E, Loquet A, Attree I, Dessen A, Job V (2019) Structural and functional characterization of the Type III secretion system (T3SS) needle of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Front. Microbiol. 10, 573.


Dortet L, Lombardi C, Cretin F, Dessen A, Filloux A (2018) Pore-forming activity of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa type III secretion system translocon alters the host epigenome. Nature Microbiol. 3:378-386.

Zouhir S, Robert-Genthon M, Trindade DM, Job V, Nedeljković M, Breyton C, Ebel C, Attree I, Dessen A (2018) Assembly of an atypical macroglobulin complex from Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Sci. Rep. 8 : 527

Trouvé J, Mohamed A, Leisico F, Contreras-Martel C, Liu B, Mas C, Rudner DZ, Rodrigues CD, Morlot C (2018) Structural characterization of the sporulation protein GerM from Bacillus subtilis. J. Struct. Biol. 204 ; 481-490.

Morlot C, Straume D, Peters K, Hegnar O, Simon N, Villard AM, Contreras-Martel C, Leisico F, Breukink E, Gravier-Pelletier C, Le Corre L, Vollmer W, Pietrancosta N, Havarstein L, Zapun A. (2018) Nature Commun. 9 : 3180.


Contreras-Martel C, Martins A, Ecobichon C, Trindade DM, Mattei PJ, El Ghachi M, Hicham S, Hardouin P, Boneca IG, Dessen A (2017) Molecular architecture of the PBP2:MreC core bacterial cell wall synthesis complex. Nature Comm. 8 : 776.

Bonnet J, Cartannaz J, Tourcier G, Contreras-Martel C, Kleman JP, Morlot C, Vernet T, Di Guilmi AM (2017) Autocatalytic association of proteins by covalent bond formation : a bio molecular welding toolbox derived from a bacterial adhesion. Sci. Rep. 7 : 43564.

Mayrink Assis L, Nedeljković M, Dessen A (2017) New strategies for targeting of multi-drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Drug Res. Updates 31 : 1-14.

Calvez P, Breukink E, Roper DI, Dib M, Contreras-Martel C, Zapun A (2017) Substitutions in PBP2b from b-lactam resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae have different effects on enzymatic activity and drug reactivity. J. Biol. Chem. 292 : 2854-2865.


Laddomada F, Miyachiro MM, Dessen A (2016) Structural insights into protein-protein interactions involved in bacterial cell wall biogenesis. Antibiotics 5 : E14.

Berardozzi R, Adam V, Martins A, Bourgeois D (2016) Arginine 66 controls dark-state formation in green-to-red photoconvertible fluorescent proteins. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 138 : 558-565.

El Khatib M, Martins A, Bourgeois D, Colletier JP, Adam V (2016) Rational design of ultrastable and reversibly photoswitchable fluorescent proteins for super-resolution imaging of the bacterial periplasm. Sci. Rep. 6 : 18459.

da Mata Madeira PV, Zouhir S, Basso P, Neves D, Laubier A, Salacha R, Bleves S, Faudry E, Contreras-Martel C, Dessen A (2016) Structural basis of lipid targeting and destruction by the type V secretion system of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. J. Mol. Biol. 428 : 1790-1803.

Sink R, Kotnik M, Zega A, Barreteau H, Gobec S, Blanot D, Dessen A, Contreras-Martel C (2016) Crystallographic study of peptidoglycan biosynthesis enzyme MurD : domain movement revisited. PLoS One : 11, e0152075.


Shaik M, Lombardi C, Trindade DM, Fenel D, Schoehn G, Di Guilmi AM, Dessen A (2015) A structural snapshot of type II pilus formation in Streptococcus pneumoniae. J. Biol. Chem. 290 : 22581-22592.

Bisson-Filho AW, Discola KF, Castellen P, Blasios V, Martins A, Sforça M, Garcia W, Zeri AC, Erickson HP, Dessen A, and Gueiros-Filho FJ (2015) FtsZ filament capping by MciZ, a developmental regulator of bacterial division. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 112 : E2130-E2138.

Lantez V, Nikolaidis I, Rechenmann M, Vernet T, Noirclerc-Savoye M (2015) Rapid automated detergent screening for the solubilization and purification of membrane proteins and complexes. Eng. Life Sci. 15:39-50.


Wong SG and Dessen A (2014) Structure of a bacterial alpha2-macroglobulin reveals mimicry of eukaryotic innate immunity. Nature Comm. 5 : 4917

Tosi T, Estrozi LF, Job V, Guilvout I, Pugsley AP, Schoehn G, and Dessen A (2014) Structural similarity of secretins from type II and type III secretion systems. Structure 22:1348-1355.

Shaik MM, Maccagni A, Tourcier G, Di Guilmi AM, and Dessen A (2014) Structural basis of pilus anchoring by the ancillary pilin RrgC of Streptococcus pneumoniae. J. Biol. Chem. 289 : 16988-16997.

Lebreton A, Job V, Ragon M, Le Monnier A, Dessen A, Cossart P, and Bierne H (2014) Structural basis for the inhibition of the chromatin receptor BAHD1 by the bacterial nucleomodulin LntA. MBio 5 : e00775-e00713.

Nikolaidis I, Favini-Stabile S, and Dessen A. (2014) Resistance to antibiotics targeted to the bacterial cell wall. Prot. Sci. 23 : 243-259.

Discola KF, Forster A, Simorre JP, Attree I, Dessen A, Job V(2014) Membrane chaperone recognition by the major translocator protein PopB of the type III secretion system of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. J. Biol. Chem. 289 : 3591-3601.

Flayhan A, Vellieux FM, Lurz R, Maury O, Contreras-Martel C, Girard E, Boulanger P, Breyton C (2014) Crystal structure of pb9, the distal tail protein of bacteriophage T5 : a conserved structural motif among all siphophages. J. Virol. 88 : 820-828.

Publications prior to 2014 can be found here.


The Bacterial Pathogenesis Group is searching for a Ph.D. candidate for a potential fellowship. The project involves the study of bacterial virulence factors and the search for novel small molecule inhibitors of infection. Please contact with CV and lists of grades from L3, M1, and M2 courses.