Physical chemistry of biomolecules

Characterization of the structure and properties of biomolecules for the purpose of designing new therapeutics and biomaterials

Principal Investigator

Prof. Catherine Michaux

UNamur, Department of chemistry, Unit of theoretical and structural physico-chemistry (UCPTS), Laboratory of physical chemistry of biomolecules (CPB)

Member of the Namur Research Pole in Infectiology (NaRePI)

Member of the Namur Institute of Structured Matter (NISM)

Research portal UNamur  |  ORCID  |  ResearchGate  |  LinkedIn

Expertise and research interests

Prof. Catherine Michaux holds a PhD in chemistry and is a FNRS Research Associate at the UNamur since 2009. She is co-directing the Laboratory of physical chemistry of biomolecules with Prof. Eric Perpète (NISM and ILEE institutes). 

Her research aims at characterizing the structure and properties of proteins. Her projects are at the crossroads of biology, physics and chemistry. Her team has developed a strong expertise in the production, purification, characterization (spectroscopy) and modelling of biomolecular systems. Catherine Michaux is particularly interested in membrane proteins as well as in intrinsically disordered proteins, which are challenging to analyze due to their particular intrinsic properties.

Main research topics include (i) the understanding of denaturation/refolding of proteins, (ii) the production, purification and characterization of membrane proteins for nanotechnology or biomedical applications, and (iii) the study of protein-protein interactions with the aim to design novel inhibitors targeting cancer.

Group members

Co-principal investigator: Prof. Eric Perpète (NISM/ILEE)

PhD student: Blinera Juniku (NISM/NARILIS), Virgile Neyman (NISM/ILEE), Julien Mignon (NISM/NARILIS)

Research projects

  • ONGOING Targeting the splicing factor TFIP11 in cancer by an intrinsically disordered protein-based drug design strategy. Ongoing PhD thesis by Blinera Juniku. Under co-supervision by Prof. Catherine Michaux, UNamur, NARILIS (promoter) and Dr. Denis Mottet, ULiège, GIGA-Molecular Biology of Diseases (co-promoter).
  • ONGOING Unravelling the disorder-aggregation-properties relationships of the intrinsically disordered protein DPF3: towards new antimitotic strategies. Ongoing PhD thesis by Julien Mignon. Under co-supervision by Prof. Catherine Michaux, UNamur, NARILIS and Prof. Eric Perpète, UNamur, NISM.
  • ONGOING Incorporation of protein channels into biomimetic membranes with the aim of designing biomaterials. Master thesis by Cyril Vandevyver. Under co-supervision by Prof. Catherine Michaux, UNamur, NARILIS and Prof. Eric Perpète, UNamur, NISM. In collaboration with Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Spain (Prof. Carlos Alemán).
  • ONGOING Intrinsically Disordered Protein-based drug design. Research collaboration between UNamur (Prof. Catherine Michaux, Prof. Eric Perpète) and ULiège, GIGA-Molecular Biology of Diseases (Dr. Denis Mottet).
  • Mastering membrane proteins refolding by a surfactant-cosolvent assisted method. Master thesis defended by Amandine Hennaut. Under co-supervision by Prof. Catherine Michaux, UNamur, NARILIS and Eric Perpète, UNamur, NISM. In collaboration with Institut Laue-Langevin, Grenoble, France (Dr. Lionel Porcar and Dr. Anne Martel) and ULiège, Centre for Protein Engineering (Prof. André Matagne).
  • Deciphering the molecular mechanisms that mediate protein-protein interaction DPF3-Plk1: a key protein complex in mitosis of cancer cells. Master thesis defended by Julien Mignon. Under co-supervision by Prof. Catherine Michaux, UNamur, NARILIS and Prof. Eric Perpète, UNamur, NISM. In collaboration with ULiège, GIGA-Molecular Biology of Diseases (Dr. Denis Mottet) and ULiège, Centre for Protein Engineering (Prof. André Matagne).
  • Structural study of the membrane protein PcoB and its role in copper metabolism in Caulobacter crescentus. Master thesis by Laurelenn Hennaux. Under co-supervision by Prof. Catherine Michaux, UNamur, NARILIS; Prof. Eric Perpète, UNamur, NISM and Prof. Jean-Yves Matroule, UNamur, NARILIS.
  • Smart hybrid nanomaterials for biomimetic membranes. PhD thesis defended by Maximilien Lopes Rodrigues in 2019. Under co-supervision by Prof. Carlos Alemán, Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Spain (promoter) and Prof. Catherine Michaux, UNamur, NARILIS (co-promoter).

Selected publications

Mignon J, Mottet D, Verrillo G, Matagne A, Perpete E, Michaux C. Revealing intrinsic disorder and aggregation properties of the DPF3a zinc finger protein. ACS Omega. 2021 Jul 13;6(29):18793-18801.

Michaux C, Mignon J and Perpète EA. Promising Drug Design Strategies: Intrinsically Disordered Proteins. Ann Adv Biomed Sci  2020, 3(2): 000152.

Lopes-Rodrigues M, Matagne A, Zanuy D, Alemán C, Perpète EA, Michaux C. Structural and functional characterization of Solanum tuberosum VDAC36. Proteins. 2020 Jun;88(6):729-739.

Michaux C, Pepete E. Unravelling the refolding of membrane proteins, one of the most challenging therapeutic targets Med Clin Sci. 2019;1(2):1-3.

Lopes-Rodrigues M, Zanuy D, Alemán C, Michaux C, Perpète EA. 3D structure of a Brucella melitensis porin: molecular modelling in lipid membranes. J Biomol Struct Dyn. 2019 Sep;37(15):3923-3935.

Roussel G, Caudano Y, Matagne A, Sansom MS, Perpète EA, Michaux C. Peptide-surfactant interactions: A combined spectroscopic and molecular dynamics simulation approach. Spectrochim Acta A Mol Biomol Spectrosc. 2018 Feb 5;190:464-470.

Michaux C, Roussel G, Lopes-Rodrigues M, Matagne A, Perpète EA. Unravelling the mechanisms of a protein refolding process based on the association of detergents and co-solvents. J Pept Sci. 2016 Jul;22(7):485-91.

Contact

catherine.michaux@unamur.be