William F Porto

Federal University of Juiz de Fora, Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Brazil

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Publications (28)54.29 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Cyclotides are a family of head-to-tail cyclized peptides containing three conserved disulfide bonds, in a structural scaffold also known as a cyclic cystine knot. Due to the high degree of cysteine conservation, novel members from this peptide family can be identified in protein databases through a search through regular expression (REGEX). In this work, six novel cyclotide-like precursors from the Poaceae were identified from NCBI's non-redundant protein database by the use of REGEX. Two out of six sequences (named Z. mays L and M) showed an Asp residue in the C-terminal, which indicated that they could be cyclic. Gene expression in maize tissues was investigated, showing that the previously described cyclotide-like Z. mays J is expressed in the roots. According to molecular dynamics, the structure of Z. mays J seems to be stable, despite the putative absence of cyclization. As regards cyclotide evolution, it was hypothesized that this is an outcome from convergent evolution and/or horizontal gene transfer. The results showed that peptide screening from databases should be performed periodically in order to include novel sequences, which are deposited as the databases grow. Indeed, the advances in computational and experimental methods will together help to answer key questions and reach new horizons in defense-related peptide identification. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Biopolymers
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    ABSTRACT: The structure-activity relationship of defensins is not clear. It is known that point mutations in HD5 and HBD1 could modify their activities; however, these mutations do not seem to alter their three-dimensional structures. Here, applying molecular dynamics simulations, this relationship was studied in depth. There are modifications in flexibility, solvent accessible surface area and radius of gyration, but these properties are not reflected in the activity. Only alterations in the solvation potential energy were correlated to antibacterial activity against Escherichia coli. Data here reported could lead to a better understanding of structural and functional aspects of α- and β-defensins. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Biopolymers
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    ABSTRACT: Amphotericin B and anidulafungin are widely used antifungal drugs for the treatment of systemic and serious mycoses. Amphotericin B is relatively toxic drug, has long been established. This study is first of its kind to systematically investigate the nature of binding to DNA, and to evaluate intercalation of AMP-B or ANIDULA with the aid of UV-Vis, ITC, and CD spectroscopy. The binding affinity of AMP-B with exclusion sites of 4.68 base pairs (1.2x105M-1) was found to be higher than ANIDULA with exclusion sites of 6.67 base pairs (3.78x104M-1); consistent with the binding affinity values obtained for AMP-B (105M-1) and ANIDULA (104M-1). The binding of two drugs with double-stranded DNA was favoured by negative enthalpy as well as negative entropy changes. The intercalation of drugs to duplex polynucleotide induced changes in the intrinsic CD spectra revealed comparatively higher affinity towards AMP-B than ANIDULA. Molecular docking studies revealed that the negative binding energy was higher in case of AMP-B reflecting more affinity towards single-stranded DNA. The results of the cytotoxicity, immunoblotting, and gene specific LA-QPCR assay have indicated that ANIDULA is less genotoxic than AMP-B. Hence, the superiority of ANIDULA over AMP-B as systemic antifungal drug has been established beyond doubt.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Molecular BioSystems
  • William F Porto · Octávio L Franco · Sérgio A Alencar
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    ABSTRACT: Human guanylin, coded by the GUCA2A gene, is a member of a peptide family that activates intestinal membrane guanylate cyclase, regulating electrolyte and water transport in intestinal and renal epithelia. Deregulation of guanylin peptide activity has been associated with colon adenocarcinoma, adenoma and intestinal polyps. Besides, it is known that mutations on guanylin receptors could be involved in meconium ileus. However, there are no previous works regarding the alterations driven by single nucleotide polymorphisms in guanylin peptides. A comprehensive in silico analysis of missense SNPs present in the GUCA2A gene was performed taking into account 16 prediction tools in order to select the deleterious variations for further evaluation by molecular dynamics simulations (50ns). Molecular dynamics data suggest that the three out of five variants (Cys104Arg, Cys112Ser and Cys115Tyr) have undergone structural modifications in terms of flexibility, volume and/or solvation. In addition, two nonsense SNPs were identified, both preventing the formation of disulfide bonds and resulting in the synthesis of truncated proteins. In summary the structural analysis of missense SNPs is important to decrease the number of potential mutations to be in vitro evaluated for associating them with some genetic diseases. In addition, data reported here could lead to a better understanding of structural and functional aspects of guanylin peptides. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · Peptides
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    ABSTRACT: The CSαβ defensins are one of the most ancient antimicrobial peptide classes and are distributed in plants, invertebrates, and fungi. In the insect immunity, the defensins play a crucial role in protection against pathogens. The discovery of novel insect defensins could be a vital tool in developing novel antimicrobial agents, which are urgently needed because of growing resistance in pathogenic bacteria and the resulting reduction in the effectiveness of conventional antibiotics over the years. In this context, novel insect defensins could be identified from the potential resource of model insects. Here, a novel defensin, MdesDEF-2, was identified from the model insect Mayetiola destructor, the most destructive insect pest of wheat worldwide. The in silico identification of MdesDEF-2 was done through searching by regular expression in M. destructor's protein sequences available at NCBI. MdesDEF-2 has 36 amino acid residues and its model was composed of two β-strands and one α-helix showing three disulfide bridges. According to the classification of CSαβ defensins, MdesDEF-2 belongs to the group of ancient insect-type defensins. The molecular dynamics simulation revealed that MdesDEF-2 has a very flexible N-terminal loop. Moreover, phylogenetic analysis together with functional predictions indicated that MdesDEF-2 could have antibacterial activity without causing membrane disruption. However, while the actual activity of MdesDEF-2 is still unclear, it is evident that its role in the biology of M. destructor is similar to that of its paralogue, MdesDEF-1, protecting the insect against microbial invasion. Figure From Mayetiola destructor protein sequences to in silico structural and evolutionary data of MdesDEF-2, a novel defensin from the Hessian fly
    No preview · Article · Jul 2014 · Journal of Molecular Modeling
  • William F. Porto · Diego O. Nolasco · Octavio L. Franco
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    ABSTRACT: Glycine-rich proteins (GRPs) derived from plants compose a family of proteins and peptides that share a glycine repeat domain and can perform diverse functions. Two structural conformations have been proposed for GRPs: glycine loops arranged as a Velcro and an anti-parallel β-sheet with several β-strands. The antimicrobial peptide Pg-AMP1 is the only plant GRP with antibacterial activity reported so far and its structure remains unclear. Recently, its recombinant expression was reported, where the recombinant peptide had an additional methionine residue at the N-terminal and a histidine tag at the C-terminal (His6-tag). These changes seem to change the peptide's activity, generating a broader spectrum of antibacterial activity. In this report, through ab initio molecular modelling and molecular dynamics, it was observed that both peptide structures were composed of an N-terminal α-helix and a dynamic loop that represents two-thirds of the protein. In contrast to previous reports, it was observed that there is a tendency to adopt a globular fold instead of an extended one, which could be in both, glycine loops or anti-parallel β-sheet conformation. The recombinant peptide showed a slightly higher solvated potential energy compared to the native form, which could be related to the His6-tag exposition. In fact, the His6-tag could be mainly responsible for the broader spectrum of activity, but it does not seem to cause great structural changes. However, novel studies are needed for a better characterization of its pharmacological properties so that in the future novel drugs may be produced based on this peptide.
    No preview · Article · May 2014 · Peptides
  • Mandal SM · Bharti R · Porto WF · Gauri SS · Mandal M · Franco OL · Ghosh AK
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    ABSTRACT: Pharmaceutical industries have renewed interest in screening multifunctional bioactive peptides as a marketable product in health care applications. In this context, several animal and plant peptides with potential bioactivity have been reported. Milk proteins and peptides have received much attention as a source of health-enhancing components to be incorporated into nutraceuticals and functional foods. By using this source, 24 peptides have been fractionated and purified from human milk using RP-HPLC. Multifunctional roles including antimicrobial, antioxidant and growth stimulating activity have been evaluated in all 24 fractions. Nevertheless, only four fractions show multiple combined activities among them. Using a proteomic approach, two of these four peptides have been identified as lactoferrin derived peptide and kappa casein short chain peptide. Lactoferrin derived peptide (f8) is arginine-rich and kappa casein derived (f12) peptide is proline-rich. Both peptides (f8 and f12) showed antimicrobial activity against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Fraction 8 (f8) exhibits growth stimulating activity in 3T3 cell line and f12 shows higher free radical scavenging activity in comparison to other fractions. Finally, both peptides were in silico evaluated and some insights into their mechanism of action were provided. Thus, results indicate that these identified peptides have multiple biological activities which are valuable for the quick development of the neonate and may be considered as potential biotechnological products for nutraceutical industry.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2014 · Peptides
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    ABSTRACT: Pharmaceutical industries have renewed interest in screening multifunctional bioactive peptides as a marketable product in health care applications. In this context, several animal and plant peptides with potential bioactivity have been reported. Milk proteins and peptides have received much attention as a source of health-enhancing components to be incorporated into nutraceuticals and functional foods. By using this source, 24 peptides have been fractionated and purified from human milk using RP-HPLC. Multifunctional roles including antimicrobial, antioxidant and growth stimulating activity have been evaluated in all 24 fractions. Nevertheless, only 4 fractions show multiple combined activities among them. Using a proteomic approach, two of these four peptides have been identified as lactoferrin derived peptide and kappa casein short chain peptide. Lactoferrin derived peptide (f8) is arginine-rich and kappa casein derived (f12) peptide is proline-rich. Both peptides (f8 and f12) showed antimicrobial activity against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Fraction 8 (f8) exhibits growth stimulating activity in 3T3 cell line and f12 shows higher free radical scavenging activity in comparison to other fractions. Finally, both peptides were in silico evaluated and some insights into their mechanism of action were provided. Thus, results indicate that these identified peptides have multiple biological activities which are valuable for the quick development of the neonate and may be considered as potential biotechnological products for for nutraceutical industry.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2014 · Peptides
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    ABSTRACT: Zantedeschia aethiopica is an evergreen perennial plant cultivated worldwide and commonly used for ornamental and medicinal purposes including the treatment of bacterial infections. However, the current understanding of molecular and physiological mechanisms in this plant is limited, in comparison to other non-model plants. In order to improve understanding of the biology of this botanical species, RNA-Seq technology was used for transcriptome assembly and characterization. Following Z. aethiopica spathe tissue RNA extraction, high-throughput RNA sequencing was performed with the aim of obtaining both abundant and rare transcript data. Functional profiling based on KEGG Orthology (KO) analysis highlighted contigs that were involved predominantly in genetic information (37%) and metabolism (34%) processes. Predicted proteins involved in the plant circadian system, hormone signal transduction, secondary metabolism and basal immunity are described here. In silico screening of the transcriptome data set for antimicrobial peptide (AMP) -encoding sequences was also carried out and three lipid transfer proteins (LTP) were identified as potential AMPs involved in plant defense. Spathe predicted protein maps were drawn, and suggested that major plant efforts are expended in guaranteeing the maintenance of cell homeostasis, characterized by high investment in carbohydrate, amino acid and energy metabolism as well as in genetic information.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: Protein structures can provide some functional evidences. Therefore structural genomics efforts to identify the functions of hypothetical proteins have brought advances in our understanding of biological systems. To this end, a new strategy to mine protein databases in the search for candidates for function prediction was here described. The strategy was applied to Escherichia coli proteins deposited in the NCBI's non-redundant database. Briefly, data mining selects small conserved hypothetical proteins without significant templates on Protein Data Bank, without transmembrane regions and with similarity to Eukaryote proteins. Through this strategy, 12 protein sequences were selected for molecular modelling, from a total of 13,306 E. coli's conserved hypothetical sequences. From these, only three sequences could be modelled. GI 488361128 model was similar to cupredoxins, GI 281178323 model was similar to β-barrel proteins and GI 227886634 model showed structural similarities to lipid binding proteins. However, only the GI 227886634 seems to have a function related to the similar structures, since it was the unique structure that kept the fold during the molecular dynamics simulation. The method here described can be relevant to select hypothetical sequences that can be targets for in vitro and/or in vivo functional characterization.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · Journal of Proteomics & Bioinformatics

  • No preview · Chapter · Dec 2013
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    ABSTRACT: Plants produce a variety of proteins and peptides which are involved in their defense against pathogens. Serine protease inhibitors are a well-established class of inhibitors correlated with plant defense. Increased levels of protease inhibitors delay cell damage and expand the cell's life-span. Recently, the rapid emergence of antibiotic-resistant microbial pathogens has prompted immense interest in purifying novel antimicrobial proteins or peptides from plant sources. Usually, the purification of protease inhibitors is accomplished by salt-extraction, ultrafiltration and affinity chromatography. Here, we developed a novel approach based on iron oxide nanoparticles conjugated to dextran functionalized with trypsin beads that accelerate the quick screening and purification of antimicrobial peptides with serine protease inhibitor activity. The method described here also works for screening other inhibitors using particular protein kinases, and it is therefore a novel tool for use as the leading method in the development of novel antimicrobial agents with protease inhibitory activity. Finally, and no less important, molecular modelling and dynamics studies of a homologous inhibitor studied here with Escherichia coli trypsin and chymotrypsin are provided in order to shed some light on inhibitor-enzyme interactions.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2013 · The Analyst
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    ABSTRACT: Phytopathogens cause economic losses in agribusiness. Plant-derived compounds have been proposed to overcome this problem, including the antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). This paper reports the identification of Ps-AFP1, a novel AMP isolated from the Pisum sativum radicle. Ps-AFP1 was purified and evaluated against phytopathogenic fungi, showing clear effectiveness. In silico analyses were performed, suggesting an unusual fold and disulfide bond pattern. A novel fold and a novel AMP class were here proposed, the αβ-trumpet fold and αβ-trumpet peptides, respectively. The name αβ-trumpet was created due to the peptide's fold, which resembles the musical instrument. The Ps-AFP1 mechanism of action was also proposed. Microscopic analyses revealed that Ps-AFP1 could affect the fungus during the hyphal elongation from spore germination. Furthermore, confocal microscopy performed with Ps-AFP1 labeled with FITC shows that the peptide was localized at high concentration along the fungal cell surface. Due to low cellular disruption rates, it seems that the main target is the fungal cell wall. The binding thermogram and isothermal titration, molecular dynamics and docking analyses were also performed, showing that Ps-AFP1 could bind to chitin producing a stable complex. Data here reported provided novel structural-functional insights into the αβ-trumpet peptide fold.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · Biochimie
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    William F Porto · Octavio L Franco
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    ABSTRACT: Among the main classes of cysteine-stabilized antimicrobial peptides, the snakin/GASA family has not yet had any structural characterization. Through the combination of ab initio and comparative modeling with a disulfide bond predictor, the three-dimensional structure prediction of snakin-1 is here reported. The structure was composed of two long α-helices with a disulfide pattern of Cys(I)-Cys(IX), Cys(II)-Cys(VII), Cys(III)-Cys(IV), Cys(V)-Cys(XI), Cys(VI)-Cys(XII) and Cys(VIII)-Cys(X). The overall structure was maintained throughout molecular dynamics simulation. Snakin-1 showed a small degree of structural similarity with thionins and α-helical hairpins. This is the first report of snakin-1 structural characterization, shedding some light on the snakin/GASA family.
    Preview · Article · Apr 2013 · Peptides
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    ABSTRACT: Keratitis treatment has become more complicated due to the emergence of bacterial or fungal pathogens with enhanced antibiotic resistance. The pharmaceutical applications of N-heterocyclic carbene complexes have received remarkable attention due to their antimicrobial properties. In this paper, the new precursor, 3,3'-(p-phenylenedimethylene) bis{1-(2- methyl-allyl)imidazolium} bromide (1a) and its analogous PF6 salt (1b) were synthesized. Furthermore, silver(I) and gold(I) -N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) complexes [Ag2LBr2/Au2LBr2; 2a/3a], [(Ag2L2)(PF6)2/(Au2L2)(PF6)2; 2b/3b] were developed from their corresponding ligands. All compounds were screened for their antimicrobial activities against multiple keratitis-associated human eye pathogens, including bacteria and fungi. Complexes 2a and 3a showed highest activity, and the effectiveness of 3a was also studied, focusing eradication of pathogen biofilm. Furthermore, the structures of 1a, 2a and 3b were determined using single crystal X-ray analysis, 2b and 3a were optimized theoretically. The mechanism of action of 3a was evaluated by scanning electron microscopy and docking experiments, suggesting that its target is the cell membrane. In summary, 3a may be helpful in developing antimicrobial therapies in patients suffering from keratitis-associated eye infections caused by multidrug-resistant pathogens.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · PLoS ONE
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    Full-text · Chapter · Feb 2013
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    William F Porto · Allan S Pires · Octavio L Franco
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    ABSTRACT: The antimicrobial peptides (AMP) have been proposed as an alternative to control resistant pathogens. However, due to multifunctional properties of several AMP classes, until now there has been no way to perform efficient AMP identification, except through in vitro and in vivo tests. Nevertheless, an indication of activity can be provided by prediction methods. In order to contribute to the AMP prediction field, the CS-AMPPred (Cysteine-Stabilized Antimicrobial Peptides Predictor) is presented here, consisting of an updated version of the Support Vector Machine (SVM) model for antimicrobial activity prediction in cysteine-stabilized peptides. The CS-AMPPred is based on five sequence descriptors: indexes of (i) α-helix and (ii) loop formation; and averages of (iii) net charge, (iv) hydrophobicity and (v) flexibility. CS-AMPPred was based on 310 cysteine-stabilized AMPs and 310 sequences extracted from PDB. The polynomial kernel achieves the best accuracy on 5-fold cross validation (85.81%), while the radial and linear kernels achieve 84.19%. Testing in a blind data set, the polynomial and radial kernels achieve an accuracy of 90.00%, while the linear model achieves 89.33%. The three models reach higher accuracies than previously described methods. A standalone version of CS-AMPPred is available for download at <http://sourceforge.net/projects/csamppred/> and runs on any Linux machine.
    Preview · Article · Dec 2012 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: The antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are evolutionarily ancient molecules that act as components of the innate immune system. Recently, it was demonstrated that a single AMP can perform various functions; this ability is known as "peptide promiscuity." However, little is known about promiscuity in plant AMPs without disulfide bonds. This study was carried out to evaluate the promiscuity of Cn-AMP1: a promising disulfide-free plant peptide with reduced size and cationic and hydrophobic properties. Its activity against human pathogenic bacteria and fungal pathogens, as well as its in vitro immunostimulatory activity and effects on cancerous and healthy mammalian cell proliferation were studied here. Cn-AMP1 exerts antimicrobial effects against Gram-positive bacteria, Gram-negative bacteria, and fungi. Moreover, tumor cell viability activity in Caco-2 cells, as well as immunostimulatory activity by evaluating upregulated inflammatory-cytokine secretion by monocytes was also positively observed. Cn-AMP1 does not exhibit a well-defined conformation in aqueous solution and probably undergoes a 3(10)-helix transition in hydrophobic environments. The experimental results support the promiscuous activity of Cn-AMP1, presenting a wide range of activities, including antibacterial, antifungal, and immunostimulatory activity. In the future, Cn-AMP1 should be used in the development of novel biopharmaceuticals, mainly due to its reduced size and broad spectrum of activity.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · Biopolymers
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    ABSTRACT: Lectins are proteins with ability to bind reversibly and non-enzymatically to a specific carbohydrate. They are involved in numerous biological processes and show enormous biotechnological potential. Among plant lectins, the hevein domain is extremely common, being observed in several kinds of lectins. Moreover, this domain is also observed in an important class of antimicrobial peptides named hevein-like peptides. Due to higher cysteine residues conservation, hevein-like peptides could be mined among the sequence databases. By using the pattern CX(4,5)CC[GS]X(2)GXCGX[GST]X(2,3)[FWY]C[GS]X[AGS] novel hevein-like peptide precursors were found from three different plants: Oryza sativa, Vitis vinifera and Selaginella moellendorffii. In addition, an hevein-like peptide precursor from the phytopathogenic fungus Phaeosphaeria nodorum was also identified. The molecular models indicate that they have the same scaffold as others, composed of an antiparallel β-sheet and short helices. Nonetheless, the fungal hevein-like peptide probably has a different disulfide bond pattern. Despite this difference, the complexes between peptide and N,N,N-triacetylglucosamine are stable, according to molecular dynamics simulations. This is the first report of an hevein-like peptide from an organism outside the plant kingdom. The exact role of an hevein-like peptide in the fungal biology must be clarified, while in plants they are clearly involved in plant defense. In summary, data here reported clear shows that an in silico strategy could lead to the identification of novel hevein-like peptides that could be used as biotechnological tools in the fields of health and agribusiness.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2012 · Peptides
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    ABSTRACT: Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are compounds that act in a wide range of physiological defensive mechanisms developed to counteract bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses. These molecules have become increasingly important as a consequence of remarkable microorganism resistance to common antibiotics. This report shows Escherichia coli expressing the recombinant antimicrobial peptide Pg-AMP1 previously isolated from Psidium guajava seeds. The deduced Pg-AMP1 open reading frame consists in a 168bp long plus methionine also containing a His6 tag, encoding a predicted 62 amino acid residue peptide with related molecular mass calculated to be 6.98kDa as a monomer and 13.96kDa at the dimer form. The recombinant Pg-AMP1 peptide showed inhibitory activity against multiple Gram-negative (E. coli, Klebsiella pneumonia and Pseudomonas aeruginosa) and Gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermides) bacteria. Moreover, theoretical structure analyses were performed in order to understand the functional differences between natural and recombinant Pg-AMP1 forms. Data here reported suggest that Pg-AMP1 is a promising peptide to be used as a biotechnological tool for control of human infectious diseases.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · Peptides

Publication Stats

194 Citations
54.29 Total Impact Points

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Institutions

  • 2015
    • Federal University of Juiz de Fora
      Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Brazil
  • 2012-2015
    • Universidade Católica de Brasília
      • • Pós-Graduação em Ciências Genômicas e Biotecnologia
      • • Centro de Análises Proteômicas e Bioquímicas - CAPB
      Brasília, Federal, Brazil