The Structural Biology Shared Resource (SBSR) offers instrumentation, computer hardware and software and support personnel for the determination of molecular structures and the utilization of structural information in cancer research. The shared resource encompasses three related components: molecular modeling. X-ray crystallography, and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). These facilities are clustered in dedicated space to facilitate access and consultation with the support team. The molecular modeling and X-ray crystallography facilities are co-located at a site that houses faculty with shared interests in the application of the methods of structural biology. The molecular modeling facility consists of 16 graphics workstations and software/data base suites which include Sybyl, Unity, MOLCAD, Dock, GRID, HEX,HINT, GOLD, FlexX and additional software and structural data bases providing a comprehensive collection of modeling/analysis and programming software. X-ray crystallographic resources include a Rigaku Raxis-IV++ imaging plate system, MicroMax-007 high frequency rotating anode. Blue Max-Flux Confocal optical system, x-stream cryogenic system, RAXIS-IV++ 29 stage and Windows-based CrystalClear software for data acquisition and processing. These resources are complemented by a didactic course in modeling and other training mechanisms with the goal of enhancing access to structural data and collaborations by the general Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Massey Cancer Center (MCC) member community. The NMR facility houses a recently acquired Bruiser Avance III 700 MHz instrument specifically equipped for macromolecular investigations. The molecular modeling resources can be accessed by the user community at any time. The X-ray diffractometer use is based on a unit of one day with 151 days of utilization available for the six month period, allowing for maintenance and down time;for the NMR, use is based on a unit of one day with 151 days of data acquisition time available for the six month period, allowing for maintenance and development time. Overall utilization for the X-ray diffractometer over the twelve month period was 36% of capacity;for the NMR utilization was 14% of capacity. These resources empower the investigators of the MCC with the ability to determine the structure of macromolecules involved in key mechanisms and assess the potential efficacy of therapeutic agents relevant to control of cancer.
Knowledge of the structure of biological molecules provides investigators with knowledge as to how the molecules work and how drugs might be developed which would interfere with the working of the molecule. The Structural Biology Shared Resource provides the necessary tools for determining molecular structure, and the necessary software for studying the structure of the molecules.
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