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Journal Article

Structural biology


Holmes,  Kenneth C.
Emeritus Group Biophysics, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Society;

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Holmes, K. C. (1999). Structural biology. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 354(1352), 1977-1984. doi:10.1098/rstb.1999.0537.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0024-58B9-A
Protein crystallography has become a major technique for understanding cellular processes. This has come about through great advances in the technology of data collection and interpretation, particularly the use of synchrotron radiation. The ability to express eukaryotic genes in Escherichia coli is also important. Analysis of known structures shows that all proteins are built from about 1000 primeval folds. The collection of all primeval folds provides a basis for predicting structure from sequence. At present about 450 are known. Of the presently sequenced genomes only a fraction can be related to known proteins on the basis of sequence alone. Attempts are being made to determine all (or as many as possible) of the structures from some bacterial genomes in the expectation that structure will point to function more reliably than does sequence. Membrane proteins present a special problem. The next 20 years may see the experimental determination of another 40,000 protein structures. This will make considerable demands on synchrotron sources and will require many more biochemists than are currently available. The availability of massive structure databases will alter the way biochemistry is done.