Chemical Biology Metal Catalysis

Our Aims

Generation, training and transfer of knowledge

Development of creative and groundbreaking
research at the interface of Chemistry, Biology and Medicine.

Education of researchers in order they become
future leaders of academic or industrial projects.

Transferring of knowledge to Society in order
to propel economical and social progress

European Research Council Santiago de Compostela University Campus Vida CIQUS - Centro Singular de Investigación en Química Biológica y Materiales Moleculares
Latest News
Media Library

Our last communication to Chem. Eur. J. is already a hot paper

So glad to share our publication is available as Early view, and also getting lots of attention

We are really happy to annouce our recent accepted article at Chemistry, a European Journal has been highlighted as Hot Paper.
This is entitled "Assembly of a Ternary Metallopeptide Complex at Specific DNA Sites Mediated by an AT‐Hook Adaptor" and authored by S. Learte‐Aymamí, J. Rodríguez, M. E. Vázquez and J. L. Mascareñas.

In this manuscript, we present a nickel(II)‐mediated self‐assembly of a multimeric DNA binder composed of two metal‐chelating peptides derived from a bZIP transcription factor and one short AT‐hook domain equipped with two bipyridine ligands.

...see also: (Early view, section Communications/Chemical Biology)

External link:

Congrats to Felipe, on his successful PhD defense

Felipe Verdugo was great today at his online PhD defense!

Felipe I. Verdugo Leal is our brand new Doctor in the group, after defending his PhD entitled "Transition metal promoted transformations of alkylidenecyclopropanes".

This PhD work, supervised by Prof. Mascareñas and Dr. López, has received the highest qualification by the jury committee.

Congrats Felipe!!!

External link:

One further publication for June, this time in collaboration with P. Del Pino group

We are very glad to announce our first Cell Rep. Phys. Sci. paper is already published. Take also a look to our cover for this issue no. 6

It's almost middle of 2020 year and we are very happy to share our first publication at the brand-new Cell Reports Physical Science journal, entitled "Core-Shell Palladium/MOF Platforms as Diffusion-Controlled Nanoreactors in Living Cells and Tissue Models" and authored by R. Martínez, C. Carrillo-Carrión, P. Destito, A. Álvarez, M. Tomás , B. Peláz, F. López, J. L. Mascareñas and P. Del Pino.

Translating the potential of transition metal catalysis to biological and living environments promises to have a profound impact in chemical biology and biomedicine. A major challenge in the field is the creation of metal-based catalysts that remain active over time. Here, we demonstrate that embedding a reactive metallic core within a microporous metal-organic framework-based cloak preserves the catalytic site from passivation and deactivation, while allowing a suitable diffusion of the reactants. Specifically, we report the fabrication of nanoreactors composed of a palladium nanocube core and a nanometric imidazolate framework, which behave as robust, long-lasting nanoreactors capable of removing propargylic groups from phenol-derived pro-fluorophores in biological milieu and inside living cells. These heterogeneous catalysts can be reused within the same cells, promoting the chemical transformation of recurrent batches of reactants. We also report the assembly of tissue-like 3D spheroids containing the nanoreactors and demonstrate that they can perform the reactions in a repeated manner.

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Another 2020 publication from the group at ACS Catalysis is on-line

So glad to announce our second ACS Catal. paper for 2020 is already available on-line.

We are very happy to share our last publication at ACS Catalysis journal, entitled "Pd–Catalyzed (3 + 2) Heterocycloadditions between Alkylidenecyclopropanes and Carbonyls: Straightforward Assembly of Highly Substituted Tetrahydrofurans" and authored by F. Verdugo, E. da Concepción, R. Rodiño, M. Calvelo, J. L. Mascareñas and F. López

A Pd catalyst made from a Pd(0) source and a bulky biaryl phosphine ligand promotes highly efficient intramolecular (3 + 2) heterocycloadditions between alkylidenecyclopropanes (ACPs) and carbonyls. The annulations provide a straightfor-ward access to fused polycyclic systems featuring β-methylene tetrahydrofuran moieties. DFT data support a pallada-ene process and shed light on the critical role of hemilabile interactions between the Pd center and the bulky biaryl phosphine. Significantly, these Pd(0) catalysts are also effective for promoting intermolecular formal cycloadditions between ACPs and trifluoromethyl ketones, thus providing for a direct entry to chiral THFs bearing trifluoromethyl–substituted carbons

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Synthetic models in Chemical Biology

Workshop on Nanomedicine 2012. Prof. Mascareñas, ERC - Advanced Grant METBIOCAT, explains his research lines in the chemical biology field.
DNA is the key macromolecule used by nature to store the genetic information, therefore containing all the instructions that control the day-to-day function of cells. As such, it has been a traditional target for the development of different type of drugs, particularly anticancer agents. These drugs include alkylating agents, like cis-platinum and derivatives, and non-covalent binders like the anthracyclines, which interact to DNA by intercalation between base pairs. There are other types of cytotoxic non-covalent DNA binders, like distamycin or propamidine, which interact to DNA by insertion in the minor groove.

We have been interested in this latter type of molecules, because they are sequence selective and therefore provide for molecular engineering of site-specific DNA-promoted processes. In particular, we have designed and synthesized a number of variants of propamidine that work as sequence specific DNA optical sensors, or as light-activated prodrugs.

Some of the knowledge acquired in the studies of light-promoted processes has been extended to area of DNA-protein interactions. In particular, we have developed a chemical approach to control the DNA interaction of synthetic mimics of transcription factors, and expect that the tactic can be used in the future to regulate processes of gene expression.
Part of our work in this area is also focused to the construction of optical sensors that can detect minute amounts of transcription factors considered as oncogenic biomarkers, like the bZIP protein Jun.

Meet our team

José Luis Mascareñas, PhD leads this team of researchers. Find out more about him and the rest of the team in our Group members section.

Group Members

Join Us

We are always looking forward to welcoming exceptional candidates into our research Group. Please visit our Opportunities section or send us your cv.


Living and working in
Santiago de Compostela

Are you new to the city and its University?
We have gathered some facts and figures you may find interesting.


Annual mean temperature. The humid oceanic climate guarantees mild weather throughout the year.


Students attend the University. With the city population around 100,000.


Year old University. Currently imparting more than 60 degrees.


Santiago is well connected, having its own international airport, train station, etc.


Amongst many awards, Santiago was declared World Heritage City by UNESCO in 1985.


Santiago de Compostela is the capital of Galicia de most Nortwestern region of Spain.


Public transport is available in order to get around the city, which is also conveniently located to visit other sites in Galicia.


Spanish and Galician are the two official languages of Galicia. Your work will be carried out in English.


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