Skip to content



Edifici ETSEIB, PG0
Av. Diagonal, 647
Campus Sud - UPC


Personal information


Present position:



Juan Antonio SUBIRANA


Chemical Engineering

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya

University Professor
- Molecular biology, recombinant DNA technology.
- Protein-DNA interactions, chromatin remodelling (especially sperm chromatin remodelling).
- DNA remodelling associated proteins: structure and function.
  • Ph.D. 1960, University of Madrid (Polymer Chemistry)
  • Postdoctoral fellow (1960-65): University of Paris; Harvard University; Weizmann Institute of Science; University of Barcelona
  • Associate Professor, University of Houston (1965-66)
  • Member of EMBO (1969- )
  • Narcís Monturiol Medal, Generalitat de Catalunya (1986)
  • Sociedad de Biofísica de España, Founding President (1987-89)
  • Member of IUPAB Council (1988-93)
  • Fellow, AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1993)
  • Member of the Real Academia de Ciencies y Artes de Barcelona (2005- )Molecular biology, recombinant DNA technology.

Macromolecules and structural biology

My main line of endeavour is the study of protein and DNA interactions by X-ray crystallography. Many new protamines and sperm histones have been studied in our group. We have determined the structure of several oligonucleotides. A recent major discovery is the presence of Hoogsteen base pairs in duplex DNA. We are presently analyzing the structure of oligonucleotids with a 100% AT composition. The Molecular Biology group is studying the interaction of protamines with nucleoplasmin.

In recent years I have also contributed to the synthesis and characterization of new polyamides (nylons) and, in general, the study of how polymers crystallize. Our work showed that polymer crystallization is related to protein folding, a subject of great current interest. We obtained new polyamides, which contain peptide groups similar to those found in proteins and had a spatial organization quite different from that found in conventional nylons.

Selected Publications
J.A. Subirana, C. Cozcolluela, J. Palau and M. Unzeta. Protamines and Other Basic Proteins from Spermatozoa of Molluscs. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 317, 364, 1973.
J.A. Subirana, L.C. Puigjaner, J. Roca, R. Llopis and P. Suau. X-Ray Diffraction of Nucleoshistones from Spermatozoa. In “The Structure and Function of Chromatin” Ciba Foundation Symposium 28, pp. 57, Associated Scientific Publications, Amsterdam, 1975.
J.M. Fernández-Santín, J. Aymamí, A. Rodríguez-Galán, S. Muñoz-Guerra and J.A. Subirana. A Pseudo -Helix from Poly(-Isobutyl-L.Aspartate), a Nylon-3 Derivative. Nature 311, 53-54, 1984. Also News and Views, p. 16.
J.A. Subirana. Estructura del ADN. Colección Exedra, 225 p., Editorial Alhambra, 1985.
L. Urpí, V. Tereshko, L. Malinina, T. Huynh-Dinh and J.A. Subirana. Structural comparison between the d(CTAG) sequence in oligonucleotides and trp and met repressor-operator complexes. Nature Struct. Biol. 3: 325-328, 1996.
Encarna Escudero and Juan A. Subirana. Structure of a Cyclic Trimer as a Model of Nylon 11. Folding at Lamellar Surfaces. Macromolecules 34, 837-843, 2001.
Nicola G.A. Abrescia, Andrew Thompson, Tam Huynh-Dinh and Juan A. Subirana. Crystal structure of an antiparallel DNA fragment with Hoogsteen base pairing. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99, 2806-2811, 2002.
J.A. Subirana and M. Soler-López. Cations as Hydrogen Bond Donors: A View of Electrostatic Interactions in DNA. Annu. Rev. Biophys. Biomol. Struct., 32, 27-45, 2003.
J.L. Campos, L. Urpí, T. Sanmartín, C. Gouyette, and J.A. Subirana. “DNA coiled coils”. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 102, 3663-3666, 2005.
J.A. Subirana, X. Messeguer. “The most frequent short sequences in noncoding DNA”. Nucleic Ac. Res, 38, 1172-1181, 2010.
Juan.A.Subirana, Ezequiel Anokian "Visualization of sequence and structural features of genomes and chromosome fragments. Application to CpG islands, Alu sequences and whole genomes" GENE (2011) 473, 76-81
Juan.A.Subirana, Xavier Messeguer "The distribution of alternating AT sequences in eukaryotic genomes suggests a role in homologous chromosome recognition in meiosis" Journal of Theoretical Biology (2011) 283, 28-34