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CHEMBIORAD Working Groups

Lipid geometrical isomers (WG1)

WG Leader: Carla Ferreri; e-mail:

This WG deals with the general subject of the role of the double bond geometry of unsaturated lipids in life sciences. The importance of the double bond geometry stems from the fact that the most diffuse geometry in the naturally occurring lipids is cis, whereas the trans geometry is the most stable isomeric conformation, but it is not provided by enzymatic pathways. Several in vitro and in vivo experiments pointed out that a possible source of trans lipids in living systems is the isomerization of the natural cis lipids due to a free radical attack. Either sulphur- or nitrogen centered radicals can induce such transformation, and they are connected with protein damage or the formation of small radicals. On the other hand, considering the lipid transformations under radical stress, the peroxidation process also covers a very important role, and it can be induced by parallel radical mechanisms with competitive or synergic aspects to be considered together with the isomerization.
Therefore, the activities of this WG will be directed toward specific tasks, but a strong interaction will be realized with other working groups.

The groups involved in WG1 are:

  1. Carla Ferreri (WG leader) - ISOF-CNR, Bologna (Italy
  2. Mercè Capdevila - Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Spain)
  3. Albin Hermetter - Graz University of Technology (Austria)
  4. Emmanuel Lacôte - University of Paris 6 (France)
  5. Peter Mattjus - University of Turku (Finland)
  6. Athanassios Nicolaidis - University of Cyprus, Nicosia (Cyprus)
  7. Branca Mihaljevic - Rudjer Boskovic Institute, Zagreb (Croatia)
  8. Athanasia Siafaka-Kapadai - University of Athens (Greece)
  9. Mustafa Naziroglu - Suleyman Demirel University, Isparta (Turkey)

The main subjects for collaborative research:

  • Studies of the cis-trans isomerisation of unsaturated lipids in view of the role of the lipid geometry in biology.
  • Identification of new precursors of isomerising radicals involved in this process, also small radicals.
  • Connection of lipid damage to protein and nucleic acid damages.
  • Peroxidation and isomerisation processes in signalling and damaging pathways.
  • Effects of inhibitor/preventive systems (chemical or enzymatic) for protection of membrane lipids.

Tasks will be involving either the radical-based mechanisms of biological functions, and the radical damage caused to biomolecules. The collaboration within the groups will deal with specific subjects, listed below, and collaboration with other WGs will provide interdisciplinary expertise.

Radical functioning:
Preparation of molecular libraries of modified lipids for the study of their role in cell signalling and in cell protection. Metal-cluster and complexes and their interaction with membrane lipids. Detection of radical intermediates with time-resolved spectroscopy methods and support from theoretical studies.

Radical damaging:
Biomimetic models of radical stress occurring to membrane lipids (mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids), and evaluation of the effects of both geometrical and oxidative modifications at different structural levels in the cellular environment (sphingomyelin, phospholipids). Specific inhibitors and repair agents for the geometrical integrity of membranes. All-trans lipids as an anti-sense strategy.