Navigation Links
The Shapes Of Life: NIGMS Project Yields More Than 1,000 Protein Structures

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.

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.?/p>

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.?/p>

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),, 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 br oad 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.?/p>

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

* The Berkeley Structural Genomics Center,

* The Center for Eukaryotic Structural Genomics,

* The Joint Center for Structural Genomics,

* The Midwest Center for Structural Genomics,

* The New York Structural Genomics Research Consortium,

* The Northeast Structural Genomics Consortium,

* The Southeast Collaboratory for Structural Genomics,

* The Structural Genomics of Pathogenic Protozoa Consortium,

* The TB Structural Genomics Consortium,

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


Source:NIH/National Institute Of General Medical Sciences

Related biology news :

1. Expression Project for Oncology (expO) completes first phase of standardized gene expression analyses
2. Whole genome promoter mapping - Human Genome Project v2.0?
3. Knockout Mouse Project
4. Research on Worms Yields Clues on Aging
5. Fundamental Finding Yields Insight into Stem Cells, Cancer; Opens Door to Drug Discovery
6. A step toward the $1,000 personal genome using readily available lab equipment
7. Students discover 11,000 year old remains of Irish Elk
8. Boston University biomedical engineers win major grant for pursuit of the $1,000 Genome
9. Scientists win grants to develop $1,000 genome sequencing technology
10. Quantum Dots Research Leads to New Knowledge about Protein Binding in Plants
11. Protein discovery could unlock the secret to better TB treatment
Post Your Comments:

(Date:11/19/2015)... Nov. 19, 2015  Based on its in-depth analysis ... recognizes BIO-key with the 2015 Global Frost & Sullivan ... & Sullivan presents this award to the company that ... the needs of the market it serves. The award ... and expands on customer base demands, the overall impact ...
(Date:11/18/2015)...  As new scientific discoveries deepen our understanding of ... providers face challenges in better using that knowledge to ... as more children continue to survive pediatric cancer, that ... age. John M. Maris, M.D ., a ... (CHOP) . --> John M. Maris, ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... 2015 Paris from 17 ... Paris from 17 th until 19 ... innovation leader, has invented the first combined scanner in the ... same scanning surface. Until now two different scanners were required: one ... capture both on the same surface. This innovation is ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... ENGLEWOOD, Colo. , Nov. 30, 2015  Aytu ... focused on urological and related conditions, will present at ... live at, an interactive real-time virtual conference, to ... Main Event Investor Conference, to be held December 2 ... Los Angeles and streamed live via ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... integration with MarkLogic, the Enterprise NoSQL database platform provider, creating a seamless ... , Smartlogic’s Content Intelligence capabilities provide a robust set of semantic tools ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Pittcon is ... 2,000 technical presentations offered in symposia, oral sessions, workshops, awards, and posters. ... wide range of applications such as, but not limited to, biotechnology, biomedical, drug ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... Global Biobanking Market 2016 - 2020 report analyzes ... maintaining integrity and quality in long-term samples, minimizing ... long-term cost-effectiveness. Automation minimizes manual errors such as ... technical efficiency. Further, it plays a vital role ...
Breaking Biology Technology: