Enea Sancho-Vaello PhD

Enea Sancho-Vaello

Institute of Microbiology and Infection
Marie Sklodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow

Contact details

Institute of Microbiology and Infection
Room GS07, Biosciences Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr. Sancho-Vaello is interested in targeting transcriptional factors in order to inhibit the antibiotic efflux in Enterobacteriaceae. She is also interested in the study of the structure-function relationships in proteins through crystallographic, biochemical and biophysical approaches.


  • PhD in Biology, University of València, Spain, 2013
  • Teaching certificate, University of València, Spain, 2006
  • Master's degree in Biology, University of València, Spain, 2006
  • Master's degree in Biochemistry, University of València, Spain, 2005


During her PhD, Enea specialized in structural enzymology working with urea cycle enzymes. After graduating, she moved to the antimicrobial resistance field studying the mechanism of membrane insertion of the well-known LL-37 antimicrobial peptide through crystallographic, biochemical and biophysical techniques. In this period, she also worked with PhoQ, the sensor kinase component of the PhoPQ two-component regulatory system in Salmonella. In the last years, Enea extended her expertise to the crystallization of peripheral and integral membrane proteins while working with proteins involved in the biosynthesis of the cell envelope of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, endolysins and glycosyltransferases.


  • Secondary school teacher (Biology and physics/chemistry) at Josep Serrat i Bonastre High School, Barcelona (Catalonia), 2019.
  • Associate Professor at the Microbiology Department, University of Girona (Catalonia), 2018.
  • Crystallography lessons in Biotechnology degree, Institut Químic de Sarrià, Barcelona, Catalonia, 2016–2017.
  • Assistant teacher at the University of the Basque Country, 2013–2015.

Postgraduate supervision

Enea has mentored BSc, PhD students and technicians in the groups where she worked as a postdoctoral researcher.


Antibiotic resistance is a growing global crisis. One important mechanism that bacteria employ in order to become resistant is antibiotic efflux where efflux pumps actively pump molecules, including antibiotics, out of bacterial cells. Dr. Sancho-Vaello´s research aims to study the structure-function relationships in global transcription factors related to efflux pump expression in Enterobacteriaceae. The acquired knowledge will allow the design of inhibitors targeting these transcriptional factors with the consequent modification of the efflux pump expression.


1. Zeth K, Sancho-Vaello E, Okuda M. (2019) Metal positions and translocation pathways of the dodecameric ferritin-like protein Dps. Inorganic Chemistry 58(17):11351-11363.

2. Magdalena Plotka, Enea Sancho-Vaello, Sebastian Dorawa, Anna-Karina Kaczorowska, Lukasz P. Kozlowski, Tadeusz Kaczorowski and Kornelius Zeth. (2019) Structure and function of the Ts2631 endolysin of Thermus scotoductus phage vB_Tsc2631 with unique N-terminal extension used for peptidoglycan binding. Scientific Reports 9(1):1261.

3. Cristina Alsina, Almudena Aranda-Martínez, Enea Sancho-Vaello, Xevi Biarnés, Magda Faijes, Antoni Planas. (2018) Engineering GH18 chitinases for the production of sequence-defined chitosan polymers. Revista de la Societat Catalana de Química, 17: 32-44. In Catalan language.

4. Almudena Aranda-Martinez, Laia Grifoll-Romero, Hugo Aragunde, Enea Sancho-Vaello, Xevi Biarnés, Luis Vicente Lopez-Llorca and Antoni Planas. (2018) Expression and specificity of a chitin deacetylase from the nematophagous fungus Pochonia chlamydosporia potentially involved in pathogenicity. Scientific Reports 8(1):2170.

5. Kornelius Zeth & Enea Sancho-Vaello. (2017) The human antimicrobial peptides dermcidin and LL-37 show novel distinct pathways in membrane interactions. Frontiers in Chemistry 5:86.

6. Enea Sancho-Vaello, Patrice François, Eve-Julie Bonetti, Hauke Lilie, Sebastian Finger, Fernando Gil-Ortiz, David Gil-Cartón, and Kornelius Zeth. (2017) Structural remodeling and oligomerization of human cathelicidin on membranes suggest fibril-like structures as active species. Scientific Reports. 7,(1):15371.

7. David Albesa-Jove, Javier Romero-García, Enea Sancho-Vaello, F.-Xabier Contreras, Ane Rodrigo-Unzueta, Natalia Comino, Ana Carreras-González, Pedro Arrasate, Saioa Urresti, Xevi Biarnés, Antoni Planas and Marcelo E. Guerin. (2017) Structural Snapshots and Loop Dynamics along the Catalytic Cycle of Glycosyltransferase GpgS. Structure 25(7):1034-1044.

8. Rosado LA, Wahni K, Degiacomi G, Pedre B, Young D, G de la Rubia A, Boldrin F, Martens E, Marcos-Pascual L, Sancho-Vaello E, Albesa-Jové D, Provvedi R, Martin C, Makarov V, Versées W, Verniest G, Guerin ME, Mateos LM, Manganelli R, Messens J. (2017) The antibacterial prodrug activator Rv2466c is a mycothiol-dependent reductase in the oxidative stress response of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. J Biol Chem. 292(32):13097-13110.

9. Sancho-Vaello E, Albesa-Jové D, Rodrigo-Unzueta A, Guerin ME. (2016) Structural basis of phosphatidylinositol mannosides biosynthesis in mycobacteria. Biochim Biophys Acta.  1862(11):1355-1367. Review.

10. Sancho-Vaello E, Marco-Marín C, Gougeard N, Fernández-Murga L, Rüfenacht V, Mustedanagic M, Rubio V, Häberle J. (2016) Understanding N-acetyl-L-glutamate Synthase Deficiency: Mutational Spectrum, Impact of Clinical Mutations on Enzyme Functionality, and Structural Considerations. Hum Mutat. 37:679-94.

11. Albesa-Jové D, Svetlíková Z, Tersa M, Sancho-Vaello E, Carreras-González A, Bonnet P, Arrasate P, Eguskiza A, Angala SK, Cifuente JO, Korduláková J, Jackson M, Mikušová K, Guerin ME. (2016) Structural basis for selective recognition of acyl chains by the membrane-associated acyltransferase PatA. Nat Commun 11;7;10906.

12. David Albesa-Jové, Fernanda Mendoza, Ane Rodrigo-Unzueta, Fernando Gomollón-Bel, Javier O. Cifuente, Saioa Urresti, Natalia Comino, Hansel Gómez, Javier Romero-García, José M. Lluch, Enea Sancho-Vaello, Xevi Biarnés, Antoni Planas, Pedro Merino, Laura Masgrau, and Marcelo E. Guerin. (2015) A native ternary complex trapped in a crystal reveals the catalytic mechanism of a retaining glycosyltransferase. Angew Chem Int . 54 (34):9898-902.

13. Sancho-Vaello E, Zeth K. (2015) Antimicrobial peptides: has their time arrived? Future Microbiol. 29:1-4.

14. Hicks KG, Delbecq S, Sancho-Vaello E, Blanc MP, Dove KK, Prost LR, Daley ME, Zeth K, Klevit RE, Miller SI. (2015) Acidic pH and divalent cation sensing by PhoQ are dispensable for systemic salmonellae virulence. Elife. 23;4.

15. Sancho-Vaello E, Fernández-Murga ML and Rubio V. (2012) Functional dissection of N-acetylglutamate synthase (ArgA) of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and restoration of its ancestral N- acetylglutamate kinase activity. Journal of Bacteriology. 194 (11): 2791-2801.

16. Sancho-Vaello E, Fernández-Murga ML and Rubio V. (2009) Mechanism of arginine regulation of acetylglutamate synthase, the first enzyme of arginine synthesis. FEBS letters. 583 (1): 202-206.

17. Pekkala S, Sancho-Vaello E, Fernández-Murga ML, Yefimenko I, Rubio V and Cervera J. (2008) Hindsight into urea cycle defects affecting regulatory sites: the acetylglutamate site of carbamoyl phosphate synthetase I (CPSI) and the arginine site of acetylglutamate synthase (AGS). Journal of inherited metabolic disease. 31 (1): 90. Proceedings.

18. Sancho-Vaello E, Fernández-Murga ML and Rubio V. (2008) Site-directed mutagenesis studies of acetylglutamate synthase delineate the site for the arginine inhibitor. FEBS letters. 582 (7): 1081-1086.