Dr. Ernesto Llamas

Research Focus

Proteins perform their functions when they fold in a correct 3D configuration; under stress conditions, they become misfolded and form toxic aggregates that could generate cell death. Our multidisciplinary research aims to use human in vitro cells, Caenorhabditis elegans, and several plant species to unveiling new mechanisms to degrade or repair aggregated/damaged proteins. Maintaining protein homeostasis (proteostasis) and avoiding toxic protein aggregation is relevant for extending healthy aging, delaying the development of neurodegenerative diseases, and designing the future varieties of stress-tolerant crops. We currently focus on unveiling proteostasis mechanisms that enable fungi to colonize plants successfully or activate cell-death responses.

The five most important publications

  1. Llamas E, Torres-Montilla S, Lee HJ, Barja MV, Schlimgen E, Dunken N, Wagle P, Werr W, Zuccaro A, Rodriguez-Concepcion M, Vilchez D (2021) The intrinsic chaperone network of Arabidopsis stem cells confers protection against proteotoxic stress. Aging Cell, e13446. doi.org/10.1111/acel.13446
  2. Llamas E, Alirzayeva H, Loureiro R, Vilchez D (2020) The intrinsic proteostasis network of stem cells. Current Opinion in Cell Biology, 67, 46-55. doi.org/10.1016/j.ceb.2020.08.005
  3. Llamas E, Pulido P, Rodriguez-Concepcion M (2017) Interference with plastome gene expression and Clp protease activity in Arabidopsis triggers a chloroplast unfolded protein response to restore protein homeostasis. PLOS Genetics, 13, e1007022 . doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1007022
  4. Pulido P, Llamas E, Llorente B, Ventura S, Wright LP, Rodriguez-Concepcion M (2016) Specific Hsp100 Chaperones Determine the Fate of the First Enzyme of the Plastidial Isoprenoid Pathway for Either Refolding or Degradation by the Stromal Clp Protease in Arabidopsis. PLOS Genetics,12, e1005824. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1005824
  5. Avendaño-Vazquez AO, Cordoba E, Llamas E, San Roman C, Nisar N, De la Torre S, Ramos-Vega M, Gutierrez-Nava ML, Cazzonelli C, Pogson BJ, Leon P (2014) An Uncharacterized Apocarotenoid-Derived Signal Generated in ζ-Carotene Desaturase Mutants Regulates Leaf Development and the Expression of Chloroplast and Nuclear Genes in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell, 26, 2524-2537. doi.org/10.1105/tpc.114.123349
Dr. Ernesto Llamas


+49 221 4702760

Institute for Plant Sciences, Cologne Biocenter
University of Cologne

Zülpicher Straße 47a

50674 Cologne

Heinrich Heine University
University of Cologne
Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research
Forschungszentrum Jülich