Lluís Ribas de Pouplana

Institut de Recerca Biomèdica de Barcelona (IRB Barcelona)

Life & Medical Sciences

Born in Girona. He studied Biology at the University of Barcelona, and Biochemistry at Edinburgh University, where he obtained a PhD in 1992 with the help of a fellowship from La Caixa/British Council. He then joined the Biology department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a postdoc. In 1997 he moved to The Scripps Research Institute where he became assistant professor of Molecular Biology in 2001. In 2003 he joined ICREA, and became Principal Investigator at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine, where he heads the Laboratory of Gene Translation. He is the founder of two biotechnology companies and currently serves as Chief Scientific Officer of Omnia Molecular SL. Omnia Molecular is an antiinfectives discovery company located at the Barcelona Science Park. In addition, Dr. Ribas serves as a scientific advisor to aTyr Ltd.

Research interests

Our laboratory investigates the process of protein synthesis, its evolution, and its connections to human health.

More specifically, we are preoccupied by two fundamental questions: what are the functional limits of the protein synthesis apparatus, and how is protein synthesis regulated and integrated within the context of the cell.

We want to understand what defines the boundaries of the proteomes of species, what specific adaptations allow certain organisms to fabricate proteins that are inaccessible to other species, and, in the case of the human proteome, what aspects of our health and our diseases depend upon our ability to produce specific proteins. We are investigating the importance of chemical modifications of the transfer RNAs for the production of highly repetitive proteins that are essential constituents of our tissues.

In addition, we are studying protein synthesis in the mitochondria, with a particular emphasis on the mechanisms that coordinate mitochondrial protein synthesis to mitochondrial dynamics and cell cycle. Mitochondria are cellular organelles of endosymbiotic origin that mantain a limited genome and their own translation apparatus. The vast majority of mitochondrial proteins are produced in the cytosol, and are imported into the mitochondria, where they are functionally integrated with the proteins that are synthesized within the organelle. How this two biosynthetic routes are coordinated, and how are they synchronized with the cell cycle is unknown. We want to contribute to the resolution of this problem through the study of an essential mitochondrial protein that we discovered in the lab.

Selected publications

– Saint-Leger A, Bello C, Dans PD, Torres AG, Novoa, EM, Camacho N, Orozco M, Kondrashov FA Ribas de Pouplana L 2016, ‘Saturation of recognition elements blocks evolution of new tRNA identities’, Science Advances, 2, 4, UNSP e1501860.

– Anadón C, Guil S, Simó-Riudalbas L, Moutinho C, Setien F, Martínez-Cardús A, Moran S, Villanueva A, Calaf M, Vidal A, Lazo PA, Zondervan I, Savola S, Kohno T, Yokota J, Ribas de Pouplana L & Esteller M 2015, ‘Gene amplification-associated overexpression of the RNA editing enzyme ADAR1 enhances human lung tumorigenesis‘, Oncogene, 35, 33, 4407 – 4413.

– Saint-Leger A, Sinadinos C & Ribas de Pouplana L 2016, ‘The growing pipeline of natural aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase inhibitors for malaria treatment’, Bioengineered, 7, 2, 60 – 64.

– Torres AG & Ribas de Pouplana L 2016, ‘Transfer RNA modifications: from biological functions to biomedical applications’ In Erdmann VA & Barciszewski (eds.), Modified Nucleic Acids in Biology and Medicine, Springer, New York City.