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 first review for 2022 is already on-line

Pleased to announce our review paper at Eur J. Org. Chem. has been accepted, and it's already available through the publisher website

We are so happy to announce here that our review article at EurJOC, entitled "Exporting Homogeneous Transition Metal Catalysts to Biological Habitats" and authored by A. Seoane and J. L. Mascarenas has been accepted and it's already on-line.

Abstract: The possibility of performing designed transition-metal catalyzed reactions in biological and living contexts can open unprecedented opportunities to interrogate and interfere with biology. However, the task is far from obvious, in part because of the presumed incompatibly between organometallic chemistry and complex aqueous environments.  Nonetheless, in the past decade there has been a steady progress in this research area, and several transition-metal (TM)-catalyzed bioorthogonal and biocompatible reactions have been developed. These reactions encompass a wide range of mechanistic profiles, which are very different from those used by natural metalloenzymes. Herein we present a summary of the latest progress in the field of TM-catalyzed bioorthogonal reactions, with a special focus on those triggered by activation of multiple carbon-carbon bonds.

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Our new publication for 2022 is available on-line

After some time waiting for it, today our last Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. paper is already on-line

We are incredible happy to announce our last manuscript at Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., entitled "Palladium-Catalyzed Tandem Cycloisomerization/Cross-Couplingof Carbonyl- and Imine-Tethered Alkylidenecyclopropanes" and authored by F. Verdugo, R. Rodiño, M. Calvelo, J. L. Mascarenas and F. Lopez has been accepted and it's already on-line.

Abstract: Pd(0) catalysts featuring phosphorous-based monodentate ligands can detour the reactivity of carbonyl-tethered alkylidenecyclopropanes (ACPs) from standard (3+2) cycloadditions towards tandem cycloisomerization / cross-coupling processes. This new reactivity lies on the formation of key π-allyl oxapalladacyclic intermediates, which are subsequently trapped with external nucleophilic partners, instead of undergoing canonical C-O reductive eliminations. Importantly, the use of imine-tethered ACP’s is also feasible. Therefore, the method provides a straightforward and stereoselective entry to a wide variety of highly functionalized cyclic alcohols and amines.

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Our first publication for this brand new 2022 is on-line

Happy to share our most recent RSC Adv. manuscript has been accepted, and it's available as Open Access through the publisher website

We are really pleased to announce here that our research article at RSC Adv., entitled "Deactivation of a dimeric DNA-binding peptide through a palladium-mediated self-immolative cleavage" and authored by J. Rodríguez, C. Pérez-González, M. Martínez-Calvo, J. Mosquera and J. L. Mascarenas has been accepted and it's already on-line (gold Open Access).

Abstract: Herein, we describe an approach for the on-demand disassembly of dimeric peptides using a palladium-mediated cleavage of a designed self-immolative linker. The utility of the strategy is demonstrated for the case of dimeric basic regions of bZIP transcription factors. While the dimer binds designed DNA sequences with good affinities, the peptide–DNA complex can be readily dismounted by addition of palladium reagents that trigger the cleavage of the spacer, and the release of unfunctional monomeric peptides.

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Two further papers accepted over the last ten days, great! And both are open access

So happy to announce our last review at ACIE and also a colaborative paper with Del Pino group at ACSnano are already available on-line

Here it is the short info for each of the articles.

ACSnano: "Plasmonic-Assisted Thermocyclizations in Living Cells Using Metal−Organic Framework Based Nanoreactors", authored by C. Carrillo-Carrión, R. Martínez, E. Polo, M. Tomás , P. Destito, M. Ceballos, B. Peláz, F. López, J. L. Mascareñas, P. Del Pino.

Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.: "Transition-Metal-Catalyzed Annulations Involving the Activation of C(sp3)−H Bonds", authored by M. Font, M. Gulías, J. L. Mascareñas.

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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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