Institut de Biologie StructuraleGrenoble / France

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Extremophiles and Large Molecular Assemblies (ELMA) Group

Group leader : Bruno Franzetti


The ELMA group works at understanding the mechanisms underpinning the maintenance of cell integrity in extreme conditions. We are using archaeal cells as main model systems. Archaea are prokaryotic organisms displaying close evolutionary links with the eukaryotic cells. They represent an important part of the earth microbiote and they have developed metabolic plasticity allowing them to thrive in the most extreme environments. Our research concerns the identification and structural studies of archaeal cellular machines involved in stress response. To better understand the limits of life we also have a long-standing interest in characterizing the structural features allowing biomolecules to function in extreme temperatures, salt or pressure conditions. A third research theme based on our fundamental research activities consists in developing innovative technologies in the nutrition and structural biology sectors.

Research themes

Specific methods

We identify original biological systems in collaborations with teams from the ARCHAEA GdR network that are leading expert in bioinformatics, microbiology and genetics of extremophilic Archaea. We are combining extremophilic protein purification, enzymology and integrative structural biology. In this context we developed a platform to study the activity and X ray-structures of enzymes under extreme (hot and cold) temperature and hydrostatic pressure conditions (BioHP). The unique properties of extremophilic enzymes is harnessed to develop novel SAXS and SANS approaches to study the assembly and dynamics of large molecular assemblies. We also use extremophilic enzymes to develop novel tools for x-ray crystallography.


Key words

Extremophiles. Archaea. Molecular machines assembling and mode of action. Stress response. Extremophilic adaptation. Molecular Evolution. Exobiology. Deep sea. Pressure. Halophiles. Thermophiles. Psychrophiles ; Piezophiles. Proteolysis. Proteasome. Chaperones. TET peptidase. Malate dehydrogenase. Structural microbiology. Biocatalysis. Molecular glue. Lanthanide complexes. Nucleating agent. Industrial enzymes. SAXS. SANS. Allostery.


The list of all the publications of the group is available here.

The group (2019)


  • Sylvain Engilberge (PhD 2013-2017) : Galway University (Galway, Ireland).
  • Gaëlle Hogrel (Postdoc 2016-2018) : Ifremer (Brest, France).
  • Ziad Ibrahim (PhD 2012-2016) : Panne group (Leicester, UK).
  • Henry Kim (Postdoc 2012-2015) : NovAliX (Strasbourg, France).
  • Hind Basbous (PhD 2012-2016) : CNRS (Grenoble, France).
  • Matteo Colombo (Postdoc 2013-2015) : EMBL Marcia Group (Grenoble, France).
  • Louise Lassalle (PhD 2011-2014) : Yano/Yachandra Group (Berkeley, USA).
  • Alexandre Appolaire (PhD 2010-2014) : DEEP BLUE (Grenoble, France).
  • Romain Talon (PhD 2009-2012) : Diamond XChem Facility (Oxfordshire, UK).
  • Elisa Fabiani (ATER 2010-2011) : Assistant professor IPSA Engineer School (Toulouse, France).
  • Eva Rosenbaum (PhD 2005-2008, Postdoc 2009-2011) : (Berlin, Germany).
  • Vincent Marty (PhD 2008-2011) : Biotechnology High School teacher (St. Etienne, France).
  • Maria Asunción Durá (Postdoc 2003-2005, 2007-2010) : (Valencia, Spain).