The overall goals of the Structural Biology (SB) core are to apply structural techniques to the analysis of important biological macromolecules and their signaling networks, to provide basic knowledge of disease mechanisms, drive research and direct the synthesis of novel therapeutics. When diffraction quality crystals can be grown then atomic images of the arrangement of amino acid side chains in three dimensions can be obtained. These images give the atomic detail needed to visualize the active sites of enzymes, see the DNA binding sites of transcription factors and view the protein-protein interactions of signaling molecules. Function can be understood through determination of atomic structures. In the absence of crystals, the molecular envelopes of macromolecular complexes, individual proteins and their gross conformational changes upon ligand binding can be determined using small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). Posttranslational modifications (PTMs) alter protein structure and are important for cell signaling. PTMs can be studied using western analysis and isoelectric focusing (IEF). The SB core provides nanocapillary electrophoresis (nanoELP) immunoassays for the characterization of PTMs. When combined these data allow researchers to learn how to modify the structure/function relationships of macromolecules; a key component to developing specific therapies without side effects.

Public Health Relevance

The Structural Biology (SB) core provides training and services that assist researchers at all levels in the Nebraska INBRE network to apply structural techniques to their biological macromolecules of interest. Assistance is provided in the characterization and preparation of samples. Then low and atomic resolution three-dimensional X-ray imaging techniques can be applied to a variety of biomedical problems that range from understanding the mechanisms of disease to visualizing how therapeutics interact with macromolecules.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Exploratory Grants (P20)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZGM1)
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University of Nebraska Medical Center
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