Jorge Humberto Gomes Leitão

POSITION: Associate Professor with Habilitation

Leader of the research theme: Bacterial Post-transcriptional Regulation and Virulence

Research Topics

  • Identification and functional analyses of cepacia complex sRNAs playing a role in bacterial pathogenesis
  • Unveil of the specific cellular functions regulated by RNA chaperones in bacteria of the cepacia complex.
  • Exploitation of virulence factors to design novel therapeutic strategies to fight bacterial infections
  • Development of novel molecules with antimicrobial activity
  • Use of molecular methods to characterize microbial populations composition and dynamics from industrial, environmental or other ecological niches.

Research Team:


  • B.Sc in Chemical Engineering (Branch Biotechnology), IST, 1989
  • M.Sc. in Biotechnology, IST, 1992
  • Ph.D in Biotechnology (adviser: Prof. Isabel Sá-Correia), IST, 1996
  • “Agregação" in Biotechnology, IST, 2015


  • Teaching Assistant, Instituto Superior de Matemáticas e Gestão, 1995 – 1996
  • Assistant Professor, Instituto Superior de Matemáticas e Gestão, 1996 – 1999
  • Assistant Professor, IST, 1999 – 2014
  • Post-doctoral visiting scientist, Hygiene Institute, U. Tubingen, Germany, 2001
  • Sabbatical Leave, Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of Zurich, 2005.


Selected Publications

Feliciano JR, Grilo AM, Guerreiro SI, Sousa SA, Leitão JH. Hfq: a multifaceted RNA chaperone involved in virulence. FutureMicrobiology 11 (1), 137-151. 2016

Sousa SA, Feliciano JR, Pita T, Guerreiro SI, Leitão JH. Burkholderia cepacia complex regulation of virulence gene expression: a review. Genes 8 (1), 43, 2017

Sousa SA, Morad M, Feliciano JR, Pita T, Nady S, El-Hennamy RE, Abdel-Rahman M, Cavaco J, Pereira L, Barreto C, Leitão JH. The Burkholderia cenocepacia OmpA-like protein BCAL2958: identification, characterization, and detection of anti-BCAL2958 antibodies in serum from B. cepacia complex-infected Cystic Fibrosis patients. AMB Express 6(1):41., 2017

Alves LG, Pinheiro PF, Feliciano JR, Dâmaso DP, Leitão JH, Martins AM. Synthesis, antimicrobial activity and toxicity to nematodes of cyclam derivatives. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents 49 (5), 646-649. 2017

Cardoso JMSGuerreiro SILourenço AAlves MMMontemor MFMira NPLeitão JHCarvalho MFNN. Ag(I) camphorimine complexes with antimicrobial activity towards clinically important bacteria and species of the Candida genus. PLoSOne 9;12(5):e01773552017 2017

All Papers, Book Chapters and Patents

See all

Martina, P., Leguizamon, M., Prieto, C.I., Sousa, S.A., Montanaro, P., Draghi, W.O., Stämmler, M., Bettiol, M., de Carvalho, C.C.C.R., Palau, J., Figoli, C., Alvarez, F., Benetti, S., Lejona, S., Vescina, C., Ferreras, J., Lasch, P., Lagares, A., Zorreguieta, A., Leitão, J.H., Yantorno, O.M., Bosch, A., Burkholderia puraquae sp. nov., a novel species of the Burkholderia cepacia complex isolated from hospital settings and agricultural soils. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol. 2017, doi: 10.1099/ijsem.0.002293.

Moreira, A.S., Mil-Homens, D.*, Sousa, S.A.*, Coutinho, C.P.*, Pinto-de-Oliveira, A., Ramos, C.G., dos Santos, S.C., Fialho, A.M., Leitão, J.H., Sá-Correia, I., Variation of Burkholderia cenocepacia virulence potential during cystic fibrosis chronic lung infection. Virulence, doi:10.1080/21505594.2016.1237334 (in press).

Sousa SA, Leitão JH, Martins RC, Sanches JM, Suri JS, Giorgetti A., “Bioinformatics Applications in Life Sciences and Technologies“, Biomed Res Int., doi: 10.1155/2016/3603827.

Cardoso JM, Galvão AM, Guerreiro SI, Leitão JH, Suarez AC, Carvalho MF. “Antibacterial activity of silver camphorimine coordination polymers“, Dalton Trans. 2016 Apr 28;45(16):7114-23. doi: 10.1039/c6dt00099a.

Gil, F.N., Moreira-Santos M., Chelinho S., Pereira C., Feliciano J.R., Leitão J.H., Sousa J.P., Ribeiro R., Viegas C.A., “Suitability of a Saccharomyces cerevisiae-based assay to assess the toxicity of pyrimethanil sprayed soils via surface runoff: comparison with standard aquatic and soil toxicity assays" Sci Total Environ. 505:161-71, 2015.

Ramos, C.G., Grilo, A.M., Sousa, S.A., Feliciano, J.R., da Costa, P.J., Leitão, J.H., “Regulation of Hfq mRNA and protein levels in Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa by the Burkholderia cebocepacia MtvR sRNA", PLoS One, 9(6): e98813, 2014.

Sousa, S.A., Feliciano, J.R., Grilo, A.M., Leitão, J.H., “Bioinformatics: a molecular microbiologist’s perspective", Current Bioinformatics, 9: 8-17, 2014.

Sousa, S.A., Feliciano, J.R., Pinheiro, P.F., Leitão J.H., “Biochemical and functional studies on the Burkholderia cepacia complex bceN gene, encoding a GDP-mannose 4,6-dehydratase", PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e56902, 2013.

Ramos, C.G., Grilo, A.M., da Costa, P.J., Leitão, J.H., “Experimental identification of small non-coding regulatory RNAs in the opportunistic human pathogen Burkholderia cenocepacia“, Genomics. 101: 139-148, 2013.

Ramos, C.G., da Costa, P.J., Döring, G., Leitão, J.H., “The novel cis-encoded small RNA h2cR is a negative regulator of hfq2 in Burkholderia cenocepacia“, PLoS One. 7(10):e47896, 2012.

Mendes, S., Farinha, A., Ramos, C.G., Leitão, J.H., Viegas, C.A., Martins, L.O., “Synergistic action of azoreductase and laccase leads to maximal decolourization and detoxification of model dye-containing wastewaters", Bioresource Technology, 102, 9852-9859, 2011.

Nadais, M. Barbosa, I. Capela, L. Arroja, C.G. Ramos, A. Grilo, S.A. Sousa, J.H. Leitão, Enhancing Wastewater Degradation and Biogas Production by Intermittent Operation of UASB Reactors.Energy. 36: 2146-68, 2011.

S.A. Sousa, C.G. Ramos, J.H. Leitão, Burkholderia cepacia Complex: emerging multihost pathogens equipped with a wide range of virulence factors and determinants. International Journal of Microbiology. ID 607575, 2011.

C.G. Ramos, S.ASousa, A.M. Grilo, L. Eberl, J.H. Leitão, The Burkholderia cenocepacia K56-2 pleiotropic regulator Pbr, is required for stress resistance and virulence. Microbial Pathogenesis. 48: 168-177, 2010.

J.H. Leitão, S A Sousa, A.S. Ferreira, C.G. Ramos, I.N. Silva, L.M. Moreira. Pathogenicity, virulence factors, and strategies  to fight against Burkholderia cepacia complex pathogens and related  species. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. DOI:  10.1007/s00253-010-2528-0

S.A. Sousa, C.G. Ramos, L.M. Moreira, J.H. Leitão, The hfq gene is required for stress resistance and full virulence of Burkholderia  cepacia to the nematode Caenorhabditis elegansMicrobiology  156:896-908, 2010.

C.G. Ramos, A.M. Grilo, S.A. Sousa, M.L. Barbosa, H. Nadais, J.H. Leitão,  A new methodology combining PCR, cloning, and sequencing of clones  discriminated by RFLP for the study of microbial populations:  application to an UASB reactor sample. Applied Microbiology and  Biotechnology 85:801-806, 2010.

A.S. Ferreira, J.H. Leitão, I.N. Silva, P.F. Pinheiro, S.A. Sousa, C.G. Ramos, L.M. Moreira, Distribution of cepacian biosynthesis genes among environmental  and clinical Burkholderia strains and role of cepacian  exopolysaccharide in resistance to stress conditions. Applied and  Environmental Microbiology 76:441-450, 2010.

S.A. Sousa, C.G. Ramos, L. Almeida, L. Meirinhos-Soares, J. Wopperer, S. Schwager, L. Eberl, J.H. Leitão, " Burkholderia cenocepacia j2315 acyl carrier protein: a potential target for antimicrobials development?", Microbial Pathogenesis45, 331-336, 2008 (abstract)

S.A. Sousa, L.M. Moreira, J.H. Leitão, Functional analysis of the  Burkholderia cenocepacia J2315 BceAJ protein with phosphomannose isomerase and GDP-D-mannose pyrophosphorylase activities, Applied Microbiology and  Biotechnology, 80, 1015-1022, 2008 (abstract)

J.H. Leitão, S.A. Sousa, M.V. Cunha, M.J. Salgado, J. Melo-Cristino, M.C. Barreto and I. Sá-Correia. “Variation of the antimicrobial susceptibility profiles of Burkholderia cepacia complex clonal isolates obtained from chronically infected  cystic fibrosis patients: a five-year survey in the major Portuguese treatment center". European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases27, 1101-1111, 2008 (abstract)

S.A. Sousa, M. Ulrich, A. Bragonzi, M. Burke, D. Worlitzch, J.H. Leitão, C. Meisner, L. Eberl, I. Sá-Correia, G. Döring (2007) “Virulence of Burkholderia cepacia complex strain in gp91phox-/-mice", Cellular Microbiology9, 2817-2825, 2007 (abstract)

S.A. Sousa, L.M. Moreira, J. Wopperer, L. Eberl, I. Sá-Correia, J.H. Leitão, “The Burkholderia cepacia bceA gene encodes a protein with phosphomannose isomerase and GDP-D-mannose pyrophosphorylase activities", Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications353, 200-206, 2007 (abstract)

A.S. Ferreira, J.H. Leitão, S.A. Sousa, A.M. Cosme, I. Sá-Correia, L.M. Moreira “Functional Analysis of Burkholderia cepacia bceD and bceF Genes  Encoding a Phosphotyrosine Phosphatase and a Tyrosine Autokinase: Role in Exopolysaccharide Biosynthesis and Biofilm Formation", Applied and Environmental Microbiology73, 524-534, 2007 (abstract)

M.V. Cunha, S.A. Sousa, J.H. Leitão, L.M. Moreira, P.A. Videira, I. Sá-Correia, “Studies on the involvement of the exopolysaccharide produced by cystic fibrosis-associated isolates of the Burkholderia cepacia complex in biofilm formation and in persistence of respiratory infections", Journal of Clinical Microbiology42, 3052-3058, 2004 (abstract)

L.M. Moreira,  P.A. Videira, S.A. Sousa, J.H. Leitão, M.V. Cunha, I. Sá-Correia, “Identification and physical organization  of the gene cluster involved in the biosynthesis of Burkholderia cepacia complex exopolysaccharide", Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications312, 323-333, 2003 (abstract)

M.V. Cunha, J.H. Leitão, E. Mahenthiralingam, P. Vandamme, L. Lito, C. Barreto, M.J. Salgado, I. Sá-Correia, “Molecular analysis of Burkholderia cepacia complex isolates from a Portuguese cystic fibrosis center: a seven-year study", Journal of Clinical Microbiology41, 4113-4120, 2003 (abstract)

Sist, P. Cescutti ,  S. Sveerlavaj, R. Urbani,  J.H. Leitão,  I. Sá-Correia, R. Rizzo, “Macromolecular and solution properties of Cepacian: the exopolysaccharide produced by a strain ofBurkholderia cepaciaisolated from a cystic fibrosis patient", Carbohydrate Research338, 1861-1867, 2003 (abstract)

I.M. Tavares, J.H. Leitão, I. Sá-Correia , “Chromosomal organization and transcription analysis of genes in the vicinity of Pseudomonas aeruginosa glmM gene encoding phosphoglucosamine mutase", Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications302, 363-371, 2003 (abstract)

Richau, J.H. Leitão, M. Correia, L. Lito, M.J. Salgado, C. Barreto, P. Cescutti e I. Sá-Correia, “Molecular typing and exopolysaccharide biosynthesis ofBurkholderia cepaciaisolates from a Portuguese Cystic Fibrosis Center", Journal of Clinical Microbiology38, 1651-1655, 2000 (abstract)

Cescutti, M. Bosco, F. Picotti, G. Impalloment, J.H. Leitão, J. Richau, I. Sá-Correia, “Structural study of the exopolysaccharide produced by a clinical isolate ofBurkholderia cepacia“,Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications273, 1088-1094, 2000 (abstract)

I.M. Tavares, L. Jolly, F. Pompeo, J.H. Leitão, A.M. Fialho, I. Sá-Correia and D. Mengin-Lecreulx, “Identification of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa glmM gene encoding phosphoglucosamine mutase", Journal of Bacteriology182, 4453-4457, 2000 (abstract)

J.A. Richau, J.H. Leitão and I. Sá-Correia, “Enzymes leading to the nucleotide sugar precursors for exopolysaccharide synthesis in Burkholderia cepacia“, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications276, 71-76, 2000 (abstract)

I.M. Tavares, J.H. Leitão, A.M. Fialho and I. Sá-Correia, “Pattern of changes in the activity of enzymes of GDP-D-mannuronic acid synthesis and in the level of transcription of algAalgC and algD genes accompanying the loss and emergence of mucoidy in Pseudomonas aeruginosa“, Research in Microbiology 150, 105-116, 1999 (abstract)

A.M. Fialho, L.O. Martins, M-L. Donval, J.H. Leitão, M.J. Ridout, A.J. Jay, V.J. Morris and I. Sá-Correia, “Structures and properties of gellan polymers produced by Sphingomonas paucimobilisATCC 31461 from lactose compared with those produced from  glucose and from cheese whey", Applied and Environmental Microbiology65, 2485-2491, 1999 (abstract) 

A.J. Jay, I.J. Colquhoun, M.J. Ridout, G.J. Brownsey, V.J. Morris, A.M. Fialho, J.H. Leitão and I. Sá-Correia, “Analysis of structure and function of gellans with different substitution patterns", Carbohydrate Polymers35, 179-188, 1998 

J.H. Leitão and I. Sá-Correia. Effects of growth-inhibitory concentrations of copper on alginate biosynthesis in highly mucoid Pseudomonas aeruginosaMicrobiology143, 481-488, 1997. 

J.H. Leitão and I. Sá-Correia. Oxygen-dependent upregulation of transcription of alginate genes algAalgC and algD in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Research in Microbiology, 148, 37-43, 1997. (abstract)

H. Leitão, T. Alvim and I. Sá-Correia. Ribotyping ofPseudomonas aeruginosaisolates from patients and water springs and genome fingerprinting of variants concerning mucoidy. FEMS Immunology and Medical Microbiology13, 287-292, 1996. (abstract)

J.H. Leitão and I. Sá-Correia. Growth-phase-dependent alginate synthesis, activity of biosynthetic enzymes and transcription of alginate genes in Pseudomonas aeruginosaArchives of Microbiology163, 217-222, 1995. (abstract)

J.H. Leitão, I. Sá-Correia. Oxygen-Dependent Alginate Synthesis and Enzymes in Pseudomonas aeruginosaJournal of General Microbiology139, 441-445, 1993. (abstract)

J.H. Leitão, I. Sá-Correia. Manipulation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa alginate pathway by varying the level of biosynthetic enzymes and growth temperature. Journal of Applied Bacteriology ,74, 452-459, 1993. (abstract)

J.H. Leitão, A.M. Fialho and I. Sá-Correia. Effects of growth temperature on alginate synthesis and enzymes in Pseudomonas aeruginosaJournal of General Microbiology138, 605-610, 1992. (abstract)

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