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

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), http://www.rcsb.org/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
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Source:NIH/National Institute Of General Medical Sciences


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