About employee

prof. dr. sc. Ita Gruić Sovulj

Title: Full Professor
Function:Head of Biochemistry Division
Location: 303/ZBK
Public phone number:+385 1 4606 230
Internal phone number:6230
E-mail: E-mail
Department: Division of Biochemistry






Ita Gruić Sovulj was born in Zagreb, Croatia. She obtained her PhD in Chemistry/Biochemistry at the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb in 2001. As a NATO-NSF post-doctoral fellow, she joined Prof. Perona's group at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California, US, where she was trained in transient kinetic methods in enzymology (2003-2004). In 2005 she got an Assistant professorship position at the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb and started to build her research group. She was promoted to Associate professor in 2012 and to Professor in 2018.

Research in the Gruic group is focused on protein synthesis, specifically investigating aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRSs), the essential enzymes that link cognate amino acids and tRNAs for the ribosome. They explore how AARSs operate with high accuracy and how they are targeted by antibiotics. Additionally, they are studying error-correction (editing) mechanisms evolved by some AARS to cope with limits in initial discrimination against non-cognate amino acids. They also explore the cellular consequences of mistranslation and the role of editing in preventing the participation of non-proteinogenic amino acids in protein synthesis. AARSs are promising antibiotic targets, and they study mechanisms underlying resistance and hyper-resistance to the known antibiotics (such as mupirocin) and seek novel AARS inhibitors targeting microbials. For her scientific contribution, Ita Gruic was granted the National Science Award by the Republic of Croatia (Annual Science Award) in 2014.

Ita Gruic Sovulj is the Head of the Biochemistry Division of the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb and Head of the Biochemistry Field at the Doctoral Studies in Chemistry at the Faculty of Science. She was a Vice-dean for Science and Doctoral Studies at the Faculty of Science University of Zagreb (2018-2020). She is a Member of the Croatian Chemical Society, a Member of the Croatian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Member of the editorial board of the journal Croatica Chemica Acta.

Published papers recorded in the Croatian Scientific Bibliography Database (CROSBI)

Note: this list of papers is located in an maintained by the Ruđer Bošković Institute which is in charge of the Croatian Scientific Bibliography Database (CROSBI). This link will take you to the appropriate CROSBI page of this person, containing a list of papers they have themselves entered in the database.

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List of select publications

1. Zivkovic I, Gruic-Sovulj I. Exploring mechanisms of mupirocin resistance and hyper-resistance. Biochem Soc Trans. 52 (2024) 1109-1120.

2. Brkic A, Leibundgut M, Jablonska J, Zanki V, Car Z, Petrovic Perokovic V, Marsavelski A, Ban N, Gruic-Sovulj I. Antibiotic hyper-resistance in a class I aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase with altered active site signature motif. Nat Commun. 14 (2023), 5498.

3. Zanki V, Bozic B, Mocibob M, Ban N, Gruic-Sovulj I. A pair of isoleucyl-tRNA synthetases in Bacilli fulfills complementary roles to keep fast translation and provide antibiotic resistance. Protein Sci. 31 (2022) e4418.

4. Zivkovic I, Ivkovic K, Cvetesic N, Marsavelski A, Gruic-Sovulj I. Negative catalysis by the editing domain of class I aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases. Nucleic Acids Res. 50 (2022) 4029-4041.  

5.  Tawfik DS, Gruic-Sovulj I. How evolution shapes enzyme selectivity - lessons from aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases and other amino acid utilizing enzymes. FEBS J. 287 (2020) 1284-1305.

6. Bilus M, Semanjski M, Mocibob M, Zivkovic I, Cvetesic N, Tawfik DS, Toth-Petroczy A, Macek B, Gruic-Sovulj I. On the Mechanism and Origin of Isoleucyl-tRNA Synthetase Editing against Norvaline. J Mol Biol. 431 (2019) 1284-1297

7. Dulic M, Cvetesic N, Zivkovic I, Palencia A, Cusack S, Bertosa B, Gruic-Sovulj IKinetic Origin of Substrate Specificity in Post-Transfer Editing by Leucyl-tRNA Synthetase. J Mol Biol. 430 (2018) 1–16

8. Cvetesic N, Palencia A, Halasz I, Cusack S, Gruic-Sovulj I. The physiological target for LeuRS translational quality control is norvaline. EMBO J. 33 (2014) 1639-53

9. Cvetesic, N., Perona J.J., Gruic-Sovulj, I. Kinetic partitioning between synthetic and editing pathways in class I aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases occurs at both pre-transfer and post-transfer hydrolytic stepsJ Biol Chem. 287 (2012) 25381-94.

10. Dulic,  M., Cvetesic, N., Perona, J.J., Gruic-Sovulj, I. Partitioning of tRNA-dependent Editing Between Pre- and Post-transfer Pathways in Class I Aminoacyl-tRNA SynthetasesJ. Biol. Chem. 285 (2010) 23799-23809.

List of select projects

2024-2028 Investigation of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases as targets for antibiotics and how they develop resistance mechanisms (collaboration with Nenad Ban and Jeff Errington), Funding: Croatian Science Foundation and Swiss National Science Foundation

2019-2023 Investigation of substrate and editing specificity in tRNA synthetases and the mechanism of antibiotic action (collaboration with Nenad Ban and Dan Tawfik), Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation and Croatian Science Foundation

2017-2021  Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases as gatekeepers of the standard genetic code, Funding: Croatian Science Foundation

2018-2020 Cellular responses to canonical and non-canonical mistranslation (collaboration with B. Maček), Funding: Ministry of Science and Education of the Republic of Croatia and DAAD 

2014-2016 Role of translational quality control mechanisms in maintaining the functional Escherichia coli proteome (collaboration with B. Maček), Funding: Ministry of Science and Education of the Republic of Croatia and DAAD 

2013-2016 Noncanonical roles of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, Funding: Croatian Science Foundation

2013-2015  The origin of amino acid specificity in editing class I aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases and cellular requirements for proofreading (collaboration with B. Lenhard and S. Cusack), Funding: Unity Through Knowledge Fund

2008-2011 Mechanism of proofreading by class I aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (collaboration with J. Perona), Funding: NIH/FIRCA