Irina Saraiva Franco


Interesses Científicos

Our main research goal is to understand the mechanisms underlying the ability of intracellular bacterial pathogens to subvert processes in the host cell in order to survive and replicate, namely by using secreted effector proteins. Legionella pneumophila and Chlamydia trachomatis are the two pathogens that, once inside the host cell, reside inside a compartment that is continuously modified by the action of effector proteins to escape killing and allow the creation of a replicative niche for the bacteria. Currently, ongoing projects include the elucidation of the functions of L. pneumophila effector proteins that are involved in actin dynamics or are targeted to the nucleus, as well as a C. trachomatis Golgi associated protein. These studies are multidisciplinary and involve analysis of their subcellular localization, search for eukaryotic targets and biochemical characterization (https://sites.fct.unl.pt/infection-biology/).

Publicações Representativas

Monteiro IP, Sousa S, Borges V, Gonçalves P, Gomes JP, Mota LJ, Franco IS* (2022) A search for novel Legionella pneumophila effector proteins reveals a strain specific nucleotropic effector. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology May 31;12:864626.



Franco IS, Pais SV, Charro N, and Mota LJ (2017) Effector Translocation Assay: Differential Solubilization. In: Journet L., Cascales E. (eds) Bacterial Protein Secretion Systems. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 1615. Humana Press, New York, NY. Book Chapter.

doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7033-9_35


Bugalhão JN, Mota LJ, and Franco IS* (2016) Identification of regions within the Legionella pneumophila VipA effector protein involved in actin binding and polymerization and in interference with eukaryotic organelle trafficking. MicrobiologyOpen Dec 2.

doi: 10.1002/mbo3.316

Bugalhão JN, Mota LJ, and Franco IS* (2015) Bacterial nucleators: actin’ on actin. Pathogens and Disease, Dec;73(9):ftv078. Review.

doi: 10.1093/femspd/ftv078


Correia IL, Franco IS, and Sá-Nogueira I. (2014)Towards novel amino acid-base contacts in gene regulatory proteins: AraR - a case study. PLoS One, Nov 3;9(11): e111802.

doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111802


Franco IS* and Shuman HA(2012) A pathogen’s journey in the host cell: bridges between actin and traffic. BioArchitecture 2(2):38-42. Commentary.

doi: 10.4161/bioa.20422


Franco IS*, Shohdy N, Shuman HA(2012) The Legionella pneumophila effector VipA is an actin nucleator that alters host cell organelle trafficking. PLoS Pathogens 8(2): e1002546.



Franco IS, Shuman HA, Charpentier X (2009) The perplexing functions and surprising origins of Legionella pneumophila type IV secretion effectors. Cell Microbiol. 11(10):1435-43. Review.

doi: 10.1111/j.1462-5822.2009.01351.x

Franco IS, Mota LJ, Soares CM, de Sá-Nogueira I(2007) Probing key DNA contacts in AraR-mediated transcriptional repression of the Bacillus subtilis arabinose regulon. Nucleic Acids Res. 35(14):4755-66.



Franco IS, Mota LJ, Soares CM, de Sá-Nogueira I(2006) Functional domains of the Bacillus subtilis transcription factor AraR and identification of amino acids important for nucleoprotein complex assembly and effector-binding. J Bacteriol. 188(8):3024-36.



Infection Biology Lab @FCT NOVA

Infection Biology Lab @UCIBIO

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