X-ray crystallography is the major method for structure determination of macromolecules. About 85% of all known structures deposited in the Protein Data Bank have been determined by X-ray crystallography. Knowing the structure of a protein helps in understanding better how the protein works, how it interacts with other proteins and small molecules in the cell and what kind of conformational changes it undergoes to exert its function. Even subtle changes in protein structures can have tremendous consequences on human health, causing serious diseases. A major application therefore of X-ray crystallography is in the design of new drugs.
A crystal structure determination is not a trivial task. It mainly involves five steps with the first two being the most difficult (“bottlenecks”):
- Protein purification
- Data collection and processing
- Determination of the phases (‘the phase problem’)
- Model building, refinement and analysis
The Facility has long expertise in all these steps and we are able to undertake projects from Academic groups and companies, either as a collaborative effort or as a service.