Biochemistry and Molecular Biology B1


Research departments
Administration and support units


The core of the Department consists of the program groups “proteolysis and its regulation” and “structural biology”. Both groups are focused on protease research. Proteases play key roles in a number of cellular processes and their regulation by catalyzing the hydrolysis of peptide bonds in proteins, thereby modulating protein properties by activating or inactivating them. In addition, proteases degrade superfluous, damaged or incorrectly folded proteins. Protease activity requires strict regulation in order to prevent harmful and excessive protein degradation. The activity is often regulated through the action of small protein molecules – inhibitors, which block protease activities. In a number of diseases the balance between the enzymes and their inhibitors is distorted. In addition, proteases also play an important role in cell death.


  • Protein biochemistry
  • Proteolysis and its regulation by inhibitors
  • Programmed cell death
  • Protein folding and aggregation
  • Structural biology
  • Regulation of immune response
  • Physiological and pathophysiological role of proteases in cancer, inflammation and neurodegenerative disorders
  • Proteomics
  • Chemical genomics
  • Nanobiology
  • Development of computational methods for structural biology
  • Biotechnological methods for production of recombinant proteins and antibodies

Departmental web pages

Head od Department
Prof. Boris Turk, Ph. D.,

Maja Orehek,
Telephone: +386 1 477 32 15
Fax: +386 1 477 39 84

The major goals of our research are to characterize the individual proteases (primarily from the cathepsin family) and their inhibitors (stefins, cystatins and related proteins) and to unravel the molecular mechanisms of processes leading to programmed cell death or regulating the immune response of the organism. In addition, our research is focused towards understanding the roles of proteases in various pathological processes, such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, and different neurological disorders (Huntington disease, …). An important area of research is also formation of amyloid fibers. For a better understanding of these processes a number of tools are needed, and therefore we are developing production of various antibodies and recombinant proteins (proteases and their inhibitors). We also participate in the development of activity-based probes for proteases suitable for work in cellular and in vivo models, and for testing pharmacologically-relevant compounds. In addition, we have a key role in establishing a center for proteomic research, which would cover the needs of whole Slovenia.

One of the important areas is also understanding of the 3-D structures of biological macromolecules and their complexes at the atomic level, thereby linking the sequencing information with the mechanism of molecule action. In this way, the research is focused in target identification and validation, which are key areas of research in the field of biomedicine in connection with biotechnology.

J. Stefan Institute, Jamova 39, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia, Telephone: +386 1 477 39 00, Fax: +386 1 251 93 85