BBE-Biotecnologie Biochimiche ed Enzimologia

Prof. Raffaele Porta

Room 2N-38/39; phone +39-081-2539473; ;

Prof. Loredana Mariniello

Room 2N-37; phone +39-0812539470;;

Prof. Prospero Di Pierro

Room 2N-34; phone +39-081674287;;

Other Group members:

PhD students: Mohammed Sabbah (XXXI ciclo); Asmaa Al-Asmar (XXXII ciclo); Manar Abdalrazeq ((XXXIII ciclo); Guangliang Xing (1-year host from University of Nanchino, China)

Post-Doc: Dr. C. Valeria L. Giosafatto; Dr. Marilena Esposito

Group web sites:


Use of transglutaminase as biotechnological tool

Production and characterization of bioplastics

Use of transglutaminase as biotechnological tool

Transglutaminases (TGases; are a family of enzymes able to catalyze the formation of isopeptide bonds between endoprotein gamma-carboxamide groups of glutamine residues and epsilon-amino groups of lysine residues, giving rise to linear or branched protein homo- and hetero-polymers. TGases, and in particular microbial molecular form of the enzyme (mTGase) exhibiting peculiar characteristics (heat resistance, not Ca2+-dependency, wide range of optimal pH), can be utilized as an effective tool in vitro to modify the structure and function of both peptides and proteins able to act as acyl donor and/or acceptor substrates for the enzyme. We carry out purification and immobilization studies of the enzyme and researches devoted to find out new TGase substrates either from animal and plant tissues to modify their biological properties, such as their antimicrobial activity, their allergenicity and digestibility.

Main collaboration:

Prof. Alan Mackie, School of Food Science & Nutrition, University of Leeds, UK

Prof. Reynaldo Villalonga, Facultad de Ciencias Químicas, Complutense University of Madrid (Spain)

Prof. Mingsheng Dong, College of Food Science and Technology, Nanjing, Agricultural University, China

Prof. Renata Piccoli, Dpt of Chemical Sciences, University of Naples Federico II


Selected publications:

  • A. Romano, C.V.L. Giosafatto, P. Di Pierro, R. Romano, P. Masi, L. Mariniello. Impact of transglutaminase on properties and in vitro digestibility of white bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) flour. Food Research International (2016) 88, 239.
  • I. Fernandez Bats, P. Diez, P. Martinez-Ruiz, P. Di Pierro, R. Porta, R. Villalonga, J. Pingarron. Nanochannel-based electrochemical assay for transglutaminase activity. Chemical Communications (2014), 50, 13356.
  • R. Porta, C.V.L. Giosafatto, P. Di Pierro, A. Sorrentino and L. Mariniello. Transglutaminase-mediated modification of ovomucoid. Effects on its trypsin inhibitory activity and antigenic properties. Amino Acids (2013), 44, 285.
  • C.V.L Giosafatto, N.M. Rigby, N. Wellner, M. Ridout, F. Husband, A.R. Mackie. Microbial transglutaminase-mediated modification of ovalbumin. Food Hydrocolloids (2012), 26, 261.
  • A. Sorrentino, C.V.L. Giosafatto, I. Sirangelo, C. De Simone, P. Di Pierro, R. Porta, L. Mariniello. Higher susceptibility to amyloid fibril formation of the recombinant ovine prion protein modified by transglutaminase. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Molecular Basis of Disease (2012) 1822, 1509.

Production and characterization of bioplastics

Bioplastics are an attractive eco-friendly alternatives to oil-derived plastics since they can be easily degraded by the enzymes present in different microorganisms. In particular, we produce hydrocolloid bioplastics by using unexpensive raw materials originating from agro- and dairy-industrial wastes. These materials are made of natural biopolymers (polysaccharides, protein and their derivatives) with peculiar characteristics of mechanical resistance and gas permeability. To improve their functional properties, the enzyme transglutaminase of microbial origin has been successfully exploited by our group during the last 15 years. In order to further improve the hydrocolloid film characteristics, we also use different plasticizers and/or nanoparticles, as well as hydrophobic and bioactive molecules. Finally, the obtained bioplastics are exploited as coatings, wrapping or carriers for their possible application in food and pharmaceutical industries.

Main collaboration:

Prof. Giovanni Sannia, Dpt of Chemical Sciences, University of Naples Federico II

Prof Andreas Blennow, Dpt of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen (Denmark)

Prof. Reynaldo Villalonga, Facultad de Ciencias Químicas, Complutense University of Madrid (Spain)

Prof. Carlos Regalado-Gonzales, Departamento de Investigación y Posgrado, Facultad de Química, Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro (Mexico)

Prof. Mahdi Kadivar, Department of Food Science, College of Agriculture, Isfahan University of Technology (Iran)

Selected publications:

  • I. Fernandez-Bats, P. Di Pierro, R. Villalonga-Santana, B. Garcia-Almendarez, and R. Porta. Bioactive mesoporous silica nanocomposite films obtained from native and transglutaminase-crosslinked bitter vetch proteins. Food Hydrocolloids (2018)
  • G Rossi Marquez., P. Di Pierro, L. Mariniello, M. Esposito , C.V.L. Giosafatto and R. Porta. Fresh-cut fruit and vegetable coatings by transglutaminase-crosslinked whey protein/pectin edible films. LWT-Food Science and Technology (2017), 75, 124.
  • M. Sabbah, P. Di Pierro, C.V.L. Giosafatto, M. Esposito, L. Mariniello, C. Regalado-Gonzales, and R. Porta. Plasticizing effects of polyamines in protein-based films. International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2017) 18, 1026
  • D. Sagnelli, J. K. Kirkensgaard, C.V.L. Giosafatto, N. Ogrodowicz, K. Kruczała, M. S. Mikkelsen J.-E. Maigret, D. Lourdin, K. Mortensen, A. Blennow. All-natural bio-plastics using starch-betaglucan composites. Carbohydrate Polymers (2017), 172, 237.
  • A. Arabestani, M. Kadivar, A. Amoresano, A. Illiano, P. Di Pierro, and R. Porta. Bitter vetch (Vicia ervilia) seed protein concentrate as possible source for production of bilayered films and biodegradable containers. Food Hydrocolloids (2016), 60, 232.

Ongoing granted projects

  • Ministero delle Politiche Agricole, Alimentari e Forestali (2018): Progetto per la limitazione degli sprechi e per l'impiego delle eccedenze alimentari(2018) dal titolo "Sviluppo di rivestimenti (coatings) idrocolloidali funzionalizzati con peptidi aventi attività anti-microbica per aumentare la shelf-life di prodotti alimentari
  • Ministero degli Affari Esteri e della cooperazione Internazionale (2018):-Progetto di mobilità tra l'Italia e gli Stati Uniti del Messico "Film edibili nano-rinforzati per la preparazione di nuovi materiali per il confezionamento alimentare"