BS-Biologia Strutturale

Delia Picone

Room 1P-19; phone +39-081-674406 Email: ;

ORCID: 0000-0002-7582-2581

Serena Leone

Room 1N-32; phone +39-081-674242 Email:;

ORCID: 0000-0003-4787-0882

Other Group members:

Masoud Delfi, Ph.D. student; Federica Donnarumma, post-doc


The group "Biologia Strutturale" (Stuctural Biology) focuses on the structure, folding and self-assembly mechanism of proteins and peptides, by means of rational design, molecular biology, biochemical and biophysical techniques, including optical spectroscopy and biomolecular NMR. The main topics currently under investigation in the group are: 1) The structure and oligomerization-induced cytotoxicity of derivatives of pancreatic-like ribonucleases, in relation to the 3D-domain swapping process; 2) The structure and behavior, in different biomimetic environments, of amyloidogenic and bioactive peptides; 3) The function improvement, through rational molecular design, and the thorough structural characterization of Sweet Proteins, in light of their perspective applications as high intensity sweeteners.


Selected publications:

  • Andrea Pica, Serena Leone,Rocco Di Girolamo, Federica Donnarumma, Alessandro Emendato, Michele Fortunato Rega, Antonello Merlino, Delia Picone.'pH driven fibrillar aggregation of the super-sweet protein Y65R-MNEI: A step-by-step structural analysis'. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - General Subjects (2018), 1862, 808.
  • Roberta Spadaccini, Serena Leone, Michele Fortunato Rega, Christian Richter, Delia Picone ‘Influence of pH on the structure and stability of the sweet protein MNEI'. FEBS Letters (2016) 590, 3681
  • Serena Leone, Delia Picone, ‘Molecular Dynamics Driven Design of pH-Stabilized Mutants of MNEI, a Sweet Protein'. PLOS ONE (2016), 11, e0158372.
  • Serena Leone, Andrea Pica, Antonello Merlino, A, Filomena Sannino, Piero Andrea Temussi, Delia Picone. ‘Sweeter and stronger: enhancing sweetness and stability of the single chain monellin MNEI through molecular design'. Scientific Reports (2016), 6, 34045.
  • Jan Stanek, Loren B Andreas, Kristaps Jaudzems, Diane Cala, Daniela Lalli, Andrea Bertarello, Tobias Schubeis, Inara Akopjana, Svetlana Kotelovica, Kaspars Tars, Andrea Pica, Serena Leone, Delia Picone, Zhi‐Qiang Xu, Nicholas E Dixon, Denis Martinez, Mélanie Berbon, Nadia El Mammeri, Abdelmajid Noubhani, Sven Saupe, Birgit Habenstein, Antoine Loquet, Guido Pintacuda. ‘NMR Spectroscopic Assignment of Backbone and Side‐Chain Protons in Fully Protonated Proteins: Microcrystals, Sedimented Assemblies, and Amyloid Fibrils' Angewandte Chemie International Edition (2016) 55, 15504.
  • Alessandro Emendato, Roberta Spadaccini, Augusta De Santis, Remo Guerrini, Gerardino D'errico, Delia Picone ‘Preferential interaction of the Alzheimer peptide Aβ‐(1–42) with Omega‐3‐containing lipid bilayers: structure and interaction studies' FEBS letters (2016) 590, 582.
  • Delia Picone, Federica Donnarumma, Giarita Ferraro, Irene Russo Krauss, Andrea Fagagnini, Giovanni Gotte, Antonello Merlino. ‘Platinated oligomers of bovine pancreatic ribonuclease: Structure and stability' Journal of inorganic biochemistry (2015), 146, 37.
  • Michele Fortunato Rega, Rossella Di Monaco, Serena Leone, Federica Donnarumma, Roberta Spadaccini, Silvana Cavella, Delia Picone. ‘Design of sweet protein based sweeteners: Hints from structure–function relationships' Food Chemistry (2015)173, 1179.
  • Claudia Fiorini, Marco Cordani, Giovanni Gotte, Delia Picone, Massimo Donadelli ‘Onconase induces autophagy sensitizing pancreatic cancer cells to gemcitabine and activates Akt/mTOR pathway in a ROS-dependent manner' Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Molecular Cell Research (2015) 1853, 549.
  • Roberta Spadaccini, Carmine Ercole, Giuseppe Graziano, Rainer Wechselberger, Rolf Boelens, Delia Picone ‘Mechanism of 3D domain swapping in bovine seminal ribonuclease' The FEBS journal (2014) 3, 842.
  • Roberta Spadaccini, Carmine Ercole, Maria A Gentile, Domenico Sanfelice, Rolf Boelens, Rainer Wechselberger, Gyula Batta, Andrea Bernini, Neri Niccolai, Delia Picone ‘NMR studies on structure and dynamics of the monomeric derivative of BS-RNase: new insights for 3D domain swapping' PloS one (2012) 7, e29076.
  • Roberta Spadaccini, Gerardino D'Errico, Viviana D'Alessio, Eugenio Notomista, Alessia Bianchi, Marcello Merola, Delia Picone ‘Structural characterization of the transmembrane proximal region of the hepatitis C virus E1 glycoprotein' Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Biomembranes (2010) 1798, 344.
  • ML Bernardi, D Picone, L Tuppo, I Giangrieco, G Petrella, P Palazzo, R Ferrara, M Tamburrini, A Mari, MA Ciardiello ‘Physico‐chemical features of the environment affect the protein conformation and the immunoglobulin E reactivity of kiwellin (Act d 5)' Clinical & Experimental Allergy (2010) 40, 1819.
  • Simona Tomaselli, Veronica Esposito, Paolo Vangone, Nico A. J. van Nuland, Alexandre M. J. J. Bonvin, Remo Guerrini, Teodorico Tancredi, Piero A. Temussi, Delia Picone. ‘The α‐to‐β Conformational Transition of Alzheimer's Aβ‐(1–42) Peptide in Aqueous Media is Reversible: A Step by Step Conformational Analysis Suggests the Location of β Conformation Seeding'ChemBioChem (2006), 7, 257.
  • Veronica Esposito, Roberta Gallucci, Delia Picone, Gabriella Saviano, Teodorico Tancredi, Piero A Temussi ‘The importance of electrostatic potential in the interaction of sweet proteins with the sweet taste receptor' Journal of molecular biology (2006) 360, 448.

Ongoing Spin-Off project

  • Since march 2016, the group "Biologia Strutturale" hosts the academic Spin-Off "iSweetch srls", for the design and the production of sweet proteins.