Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The Shapes of Life: NIGMS Project Yields More Than 1,000 Protein Structures

11.02.2005


The Protein Structure Initiative (PSI), a national program aimed at determining the three-dimensional shapes of a wide range of proteins, has now determined more than 1,000 different structures. These structures will shed light on how proteins function in many life processes and could lead to targets for the development of new medicines.


Crystal structure of a protein with unknown function from Leishmania major, a parasite of the human immune system.



The PSI is a 10-year, approximately $600 million project funded largely by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), part of the National Institutes of Health. The first half of this project—a pilot phase that started in 2000—has centered on developing new tools and processes that enable researchers to quickly, cheaply, and reliably determine the shapes of many proteins found in nature.

"One thousand protein structures is a significant milestone for the PSI, and it shows an impressive return on the investment in the technology and methods for rapid structure determination," said Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., director of NIGMS. "These structures are interesting in their own right and provide the basis for modeling many important proteins."


Some of the newly determined structures are of proteins found in plants, mice, yeast, and bacteria, including the pathogenic types that cause pneumonia, anthrax, and tuberculosis.

The nine PSI pilot centers have transformed protein structure determination from a mostly manual process to a highly automated one. Robotic instruments rapidly clone, express, purify, crystallize, and analyze many proteins simultaneously, cutting the time it takes to determine a single protein structure from months to days. For example, a robotic arm drops protein solution into thousands of tiny wells for crystallization trials, and an imaging system quickly scans the wells looking for signs of crystal formation—key to capturing protein structures.

"At this large scale, it would be unthinkable to do all these steps by hand," said John Norvell, Ph.D., director of the PSI at NIGMS and a scientist trained in protein structure determination. He noted that some robotics and automated tools have been refined and are now marketed by companies for general structural biology applications.

As the PSI pilot centers have put automated structure determination pipelines in place, the number of protein structures they have solved has increased significantly. In the second, third, and fourth years of the pilot phase, the centers in aggregate reported 109, 217, and 348 structures, respectively. Now, halfway through the fifth year, they’ve surpassed a total of 1,000. Many of these structures are very different from previously known structures, said Norvell.

The findings contribute to the initiative’s ultimate goal of providing structural information on 4,000-6,000 unique proteins that represent the variety found in organisms ranging from bacteria to humans. Researchers can use these structures, which are determined experimentally, to build computer models of the structures of other proteins with related amino acid sequences.

Although the main focus of the second phase of the PSI will be on solving protein structures, Norvell said there will be continued development of new technology: "As we reach for higher-hanging fruit—protein structures that are more complex and harder to solve—we will need to develop additional tools and methods."

As part of the PSI effort, all the structures determined by the centers are collected, stored, and made publicly available by the Protein Data Bank (PDB), http://www.rcsb.org/pdb/, a repository of three-dimensional biological structure data.

"The protein structures solved by the PSI are more than a scientific stamp collection," explained Norvell. "They will help researchers better understand the function of proteins, predict the shape of unknown proteins, quickly identify targets for drug development, and compare protein structures from normal and diseased tissues." In general, a broad range of biomedical researchers will benefit from the PSI’s technical advances, experimental data, and availability of new materials, such as reagents.

"There are a lot of proteins that are incredibly important to understanding human biology and medicine, yet we know very little about most of them," said Norvell. "The PSI will provide important information about these molecules so vital to life."

The nine pilot centers participating in the first phase of the PSI are:

  • The Berkeley Structural Genomics Center,
    http://www.strgen.org/
  • The Center for Eukaryotic Structural Genomics,
    http://www.uwstructuralgenomics.org/
  • The Joint Center for Structural Genomics,
    http://www.jcsg.org/
  • The Midwest Center for Structural Genomics,
    http://www.mcsg.anl.gov/
  • The New York Structural Genomics Research Consortium,
    http://www.nysgrc.org/
  • The Northeast Structural Genomics Consortium,
    http://www.nesg.org/
  • The Southeast Collaboratory for Structural Genomics,
    http://www.secsg.org/

The Structural Genomics of Pathogenic Protozoa Consortium, http://www.sgpp.org/

The TB Structural Genomics Consortium, http://www.doe-mbi.ucla.edu/TB/
The pilot phase of the PSI will end in mid-2005. Centers for the second phase will be announced in July 2005.

In addition to NIGMS, the PSI currently receives funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a component of the National Institutes of Health.

For more information about the PSI, please visit http://www.nigms.nih.gov/psi/. To schedule an interview with Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., or John Norvell, Ph.D., please contact the NIGMS Office of Communications and Public Liaison at 301-496-7301.

NIGMS is one of the 27 components of NIH, the premier federal agency for biomedical research. The NIGMS mission is to support basic biomedical research that lays the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

Emily Carlson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nigms.nih.gov

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli

26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>