Department of Analytical and Structural Chemistry and Biology

Presentation of the department

The department of Analytical and Structural Chemistry and Biology gathers several research themes in chemistry and biology and at their interface. We have well recognized expertise in NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, crystallography and mass spectrometry that we apply to structural biology, protein-ligand interactions to study of various samples. The projects carried out are based, for example, on the monitoring of the distribution of compounds of interest within various tissues or biological materials, the study of complex mixtures, the determination of the structure of compounds extracted from plants or synthesised, the understanding of reaction mechanisms, the study of the 3D structure and dynamics of small molecules and biological macromolecules (alone or interacting with partners or inhibitors) in the context of structural biology and drug design.

Senior staff

Since 2012, Nadine Assrir is a scientist in Eric Guittet’s team. She received a master of toxicology (Paris Descartes) and completed a PhD in biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology (Paris-Sud University) at the Institut Gustave Roussy. Her research projects focus on the relationship between structure and protein function including the impact of this relationship on the biological processes after post-translational modifications or molecular interactions. Currently, she is studying the impact of interactions of three proteins involved in cell proliferation, tumor reversion or cell motility, namely ErbB2, TCTP and iASPP. Her duties also include the co-management of the FRISBI platform (production of labelled proteins in eukaryotic cells). Nadine Assrir is also in charge of lessons in biochemistry, since many years, in the Bachelor and Master programs of the Versailles–St Quentin University.

François Bontems is a CNRS senior scientist (DR2). After his PhD on the structural organization of scorpion toxins in the Centre d’étude nucléaire de Saclay, he joined the NMR team led by Jean-Yves Lallemand at the Ecole polytechnique. He mainly worked on a system coupling RNA translation and inactivation during E. coli infection by the T4 phage (« S1-RegB » system). Then, he integrated the NMR group at ICSN and currently shares his time between this team and the Structural virology unit at Pasteur Institut. His present interests mainly concern the structural properties of the E and NS1 proteins of flaviviruses (yellow fever, dengue and Zika), which are the main targets of the immune system after an infection. In this aim, he developed and implemented at ICSN some tools allowing the labeling with stable isotopes of these proteins that can not be produced in E. coli and are generally expressed in insect or mammalian cells. In addition, he also organises colloquia devoted to science and society relationships and is responsible of a Pasteur course on the same topic. He is also member of the steering committee in charge of a Livre Blanc « society, higher education and research ».

Alda da Costa is a financial management assistant and serves as the administrative and financial manager for the Gifs-sur-Yvette branches of the RMNHC@UPSAY and Infranalytics platforms, as well as research teams. She was recruited at ICSN in 1999 as an AGT through an external competition (position of technical support staff). Bilingual (French/Portuguese) and already holding a diploma in accounting, she received training in management techniques and office software from 2000 to 2002. In 2003, she established a secretariat and has since been engaged in administrative and financial management activities. She oversees and coordinates some of these activities in collaboration with various stakeholders, including administrative and management staff from DR4 and ICSN, as well as internal and external scientific personnel. In 2023, she successfully passed the internal competition for Assistant Engineer, showcasing her entire career path. Outside of work, Alda enjoys hiking, gastronomy, wine, and caring for elderly people.

Claire de March is a CNRS Assistant professor (CRCN). She trained in flavor science and industry at the ISIPCA in Versailles and had an industry experience as a sensory analyst in the Bel group. She received her Ph.D. at Université Nice Côte d’Azur in 2015 where she investigated the molecular mechanisms involved in odorant receptor recognition of odorant molecules. From 2016 to 2022, she joined the Hiroaki Matsunami lab at Duke University (NC, USA) to continue studying how odorant receptors are used to trigger an odor percept but on the bench side. Since 2022, she joined ICSN as a CNRs assistant professor. She uses the synergy of in silico and in vitro approaches to establish the link between the chemical structure of an odorant molecule, the biological processes involved, and the sensation it causes. She is particularly interested in role of evolutionarily conserved amino acid patterns in odorant receptors and how that defines their identity and structure within the GPCR family. Outside of the lab, she practices many types of crafts and Thai boxing and enjoys relaxing time with her friends and family.

Nicolas Elie is engineer at CNRS.

Jean-François Gallard is an NMR engineer.

Diego Gauto had received his M.Sc. in chemistry (2009) and Ph.D. in computational biology (2013) from the school of sciences at Buenos Aires University, Argentina. Immediately after his PhD, he took a postdoctoral position in solution NMR at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology of Rosario (IBR), Argentina and then move to France to start a postdoctoral positions at IBS (Institut de Biologie Structurale) with Dr. Paul Schanda to study protein structure and protein dynamic by solid state NMR and developing methods for structural elucidation combining NMR and CryoEM. Then, he continues his postdoctoral training with Drs. Sabine Hediger and Gaël De Paëpe at CEA, Grenoble in order to perform NMR under cryogenic temperatures and DNP conditions. From 2020 to nowadays, he is a CNRS research assistant scientist at the Institut de Chimie des Substances Naturelles (ICSN), Gif-sur-Yvette where he is interesting in understand the structural basis of protein cages and their application in the chemistry and health.

François Giraud is engineer.

Vincent Guérineau is engineer at CNRS

Bogdan Iorga is research associate at CNRS.

Eric Jacquet is CNRS research associate.

Ewen Lescop is a CNRS senior scientist. He received his Ph.D. at the ICSN in the group of Eric Guittet, with a work on a honeybee odorant-binding protein. He then performed postdoctoral research at Beijing University (2004-2006, C. Jin, China) and the Institute of Structural Biology (2006-2007, B. Brutscher). In 2007 he returned to the ICSN to develop NMR methods for proteins and study a variety of biological systems with structural-biology approaches. Outside the lab, Ewen is a keen and active player of traditional folk music, especially breton music, and he always likes a good meal and a drink.

Nelly Morellet works as a research engineer at the ICSN (CNRS-IRHC). She obtained a doctorate under the supervision of Jean-Claude Beloeil in 1989 at the ICSN. From 1990 to 2010 she studied several viral proteins by NMR (HIV-1, SIV, Birnavirus, Rotavirus, etc.) in the unit of B.P Roques then D.Scherman at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical and Biological Sciences, Paris. In 2010 she joined the Chemistry and Structural Biology team at the ICSN. She is involved in several projects: antibiotic resistance (NDM-1 protein and RNaseY), domesticated transposases and transposases (PiggyBac and PiggyMac proteins), and overexpressed proteins and receptors in breast cancer (ErB2).

Annie Moretto is a CNRS technician.

Hristo Nedev is engineer at CNRS.

Naïma Nhiri is CNRS research engineer.

Salomé Poyer is a CNRS Assistant professor (CRCN). Her work focuses on method development to characterize isomeric structures of lipids by mass spectrometry. Since most structural isomeric features are accessible through C-C bond cleavages, her research interests lie in gas-phase reactivity with transition metals and alternative activation techniques to generate radical dissociations. She also develop methods using ion mobility spectrometry to resolve isomeric spatial barriers.

Pascal Retailleau is engineer at CNRS.

Christina Sizun completed a PhD in Chemical Physics in 2000 at the Louis Pasteur University in Strasbourg, where she was trained in NMR spectroscopy of catalytic systems. She then joined the group of Burkhard Bechinger at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Martinsried as a post-doc to work on solid state-state NMR of membrane peptides. After a second post-doc in the team of Erick Dufourc at the Institut Européen de Chimie et Biologie in Bordeaux, she was recruited as a researcher in 2003 at the ICSN, where she developed her interest for structural biology by NMR. Her main focus is on the structure-function relationship of viral proteins (respiratory syncytial virus) as a member of a collaborative network including INRA and Institut Pasteur. She also participates to one of the projects dedicated to therapeutic targets in the frame of the LERMIT LabEx (modulators of the CXCL12/CXCR4 signaling axis). She is involved in teaching of biological NMR and biophysics in several university programs.

David Touboul is senior scientist (DR2) at CNRS since 2008. Former student of the Ecole Normale Superieur of Cachan, he obtained his Ph.D. in Chemistry at the Paris-Sud University (France) in 2006 under the supervision of Dr. Olivier Laprévote. He developed new methodologies for biological mass spectrometry imaging including MALDI-TOF and TOF-SIMS approaches. Then he moved at ETH Zurich (Switzerland) in the group of Prof. Renato Zenobi to study non-covalent complexes and gas-phase chemistry with the financial support of Novartis (Boston, USA). Back to ICSN since 2008, he first implemented new methodologies for the structural characterization of lipids, including membrane lipids or polyketides such as acetogenins in collaboration with Prof. Pierre Champy. He then moved to the structural characterization of complex natural extracts by the means of supercritical fluid extraction and chromatography (SFE and SFC) coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). He finally developed new software for natural substances annotation in collaboration with the group of Marc Litaudon at ICSN. Since 2019, he is the Head of the Mass Spectrometry Group at ICSN. He authored more than 110 peer reviewed publications and received special prizes (best thesis award from the French MS association in 2007, Journal of Mass Spectrometry prize in 2006, Bronze medal CNRS in 2014 and RCM Beynon prize in 2017).

Carine van Heijenoort is a CNRS senior scientist. After studies in chemistry, she received her Ph.D. in 1994 in the group of Eric Guittet at the ICSN, with work on the characterization of internal flexibility of proteins by NMR. In 1999-2000, she went to Utrecht University as an invited scientist in the group of Rob Kaptein and Rolf Boelens where she explored her dutch roots and protein-protein interactions. Her research interests are focused on the characterization of multiple states of proteins and their link to function, with a particular interest on intrinsically disordered proteins and their interactions. She is currently coordinator of the department of Analytical and Structural Biology and Chemistry of ICSN. Outside the lab, Carine has three wonderful daughters, she actively practices horse riding, is fond of dogs, cats, music, reading and discussions with friends.