The Structural Biology Shared Sen/ice (SBSS) helps researchers use the unique information derived from macromolecular structures to understand the molecular basis of cancer-causing cellular defects and to design drugs that mitigate such defects. SBSS comprises the X-ray Crystallography Shared Service (XRSS) and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Shared Service (NMRSS). Together, these two facilities offer different technical approaches that work in synergy to allow researchers at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center (UMGCC) to view cancer-related biological macromolecules at the molecular level. Researchers from UMGCC account for more than one-half of the use of SBSS. Drs. David Weber and Eric Toth advise UMGCC investigators on how best to use SBSS to advance the goals of their project. To aid in this process, the SBSS has adopted an experimental pipeline that allows UMGCC investigators to determine rapidly which experimental technique best suits their needs and proceed with the experimental design that provides the most useful data in the shortest amount of time. The x-ray component of SBSS gives UMGCC investigators access to an Oryx Nano crystallization robot and a powerful Rigaku data collection system. These instruments provide UMGCC investigators with the tools to produce rapidly diffraction-quality crystals of cancer-related macromolecules and determine their three-dimensional structures. The NMR component ofthe SBSS currently provides access to both 600- and 800-MHz spectrometers. By April 2011, the NMR facility will acquire and install a 950-MHz spectrometer, the only such instrument at an academic institution in the United States. This array of cutting-edge spectrometers will allow UMGCC researchers to access the most sophisticated techniques for determining solution structures and examining the dynamics of large cancer-related macromolecules. Using these technologies, SBSS has supplied a number of UMGCC researchers with key experimental data that greatly enhanced their research programs.
Aberrant changes that cause cancer involve molecular events governed by both local protein conformations and global macromolecular architectures. Understanding the structural basis of these events accelerates the design of therapeutic interventions. SBSS provides NMR and x-ray crystallography capabilities to UMGCC researchers as a means to advance both basic research and translational efforts to combat cancer.
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