Home > Teams > Structural biology of molecular switches and motors (J. Ménétrey)
Structural biology of molecular switches and motors

Group leader: Julie Ménétrey This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Keywords : Small GTPases, Arf, Molecular motors, Kinesins, Signalisation, Intracellular traffic, Cytoskeleton, Cancer, Neuro-degenerative diseases, Crystallography, Conformational changes, Protein-protein interactions.


Research field

Understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie protein functions drive our research works. We have chosen to study these mechanisms at the molecule level using biophysical and structural approaches, as X-ray crystallography that allow visualization of protein 3D structure at the atomic resolution. We favor the study of proteins in complex with their cellular partners in order to describe the direct interactions that are at the basis of their mode of recognition and their functions. Our interest focus on proteins that are involved in human diseases and that can be modified for molecular tool development.

Among these proteins, the molecular switches and motors have attracted our attention. These proteins contribute to various and critical cellular processes, as cell division, signal transduction, intracellular transport and cytoskeleton rearrangement. The importance of these proteins is further highlighted by the fact that they are responsibles for different human diseases, as cancer and neuro-degenerative diseases. From a structural point of view, these proteins are intriguing. Molecular switches and motors, especially the small GTPases and kinesins, respectively are able to recognize and to be discriminate by various cellular partners that are structurally different. Describe the structural basis and  the molecular mechanisms used by these proteins to recognize their cellular partners and better understand the role of these interaction in the celle are our aim and focus are made on the following thematics :


  • Structural basis for cargo recruitment by the kinesin.
  • The Arf proteins, structure/function studies.



  • Cloning, overexpression and purification of recombinant proteins(E. coli)
  • Protein crystallisation and X-ray crystallography
  • Biochemistry and biophysics of proteins and protein-protein interactions
  • Bioinformatics and molecular modelling


Financial supports



La ligue contre le cancer

FRM (Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale)


  • Frederique Saudou (Institut Curie, Orsay)
  • Philippe Chavrier (UMR144, Institut Curie, Paris, France)
  • Michel Franco (IPMC, Valbonne)
  • Sophie Zinn-Justin (CEA, Saclay)
  • Patrick England (Institut Pasteur, Paris)




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Seminars, PhD, Conferences