The aim of structural biology has been always the study of biological macromolecules structures and their mechanistic behaviour at molecular level. To achieve its goal, multiple biophysical methods and approaches have become part of the structural biology toolbox. Considered as one of the pillars of structural biology, X-ray crystallography has been the most successful method for solving three-dimensional protein structures at atomic level to date. It is however limited by the success in obtaining well-ordered protein crystals that diffract at high resolution. This is especially true for challenging targets such as membrane proteins (MPs). Understanding structure-function relationships of MPs at the biochemical level is vital for medicine and drug discovery as they play critical roles in many cellular processes. Though difficult, structure determination of MPs by X-ray crystallography has significantly improved in the last two decades, mainly due to many relevant technological and methodological developments. Today, numerous MP crystal structures have been solved, revealing many of their mechanisms of action. Yet the field of structural biology has also been through significant technological breakthroughs in recent years, particularly in the fields of single particle electron microscopy (cryo-EM) and X-ray free electron lasers (XFELs). Here we summarise the most important advancements in the field of MP crystallography and the significance of these developments in the present era of modern structural biology.
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Review Article| November 10 2020
Membrane protein crystallography in the era of modern structural biology
Tristan O. C. Kwan;
1National Physical Laboratory, Hampton Road, Teddington TW11 0LW, U.K.
2Research Complex at Harwell, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, Didcot OX11 0FA, U.K.
Correspondence: Isabel Moraes (email@example.com)
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Tristan O. C. Kwan, Danny Axford, Isabel Moraes; Membrane protein crystallography in the era of modern structural biology. Biochem Soc Trans 18 December 2020; 48 (6): 2505–2524. doi: https://doi.org/10.1042/BST20200066
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