Argonne leads new Midwest Center for Structural Genomics

ARGONNE, Ill. (Sept. 26, 2000) A quicker and more efficient method to determine protein structures is the goal of a new research center based at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory.

The Midwest Center for Structural Genomics (MCSG), funded by the National Institutes of Health, will receive approximately $4 million each year for five years. The center is part of an initiative to determine the structures of thousands of proteins over the next decade.

Structural genomics is a new field dedicated to a broad understanding of protein structures and functions in relation to gene sequences. It grew out of the Genome Project, the effort that sequenced the human and dozens of other genomes. Researchers now want to use that one-dimensional information to help them determine the structure and function of every single human protein.

"Being able to read a genome is a crucial first step, but knowing the structure and function are the keys to using the information to cure, treat and prevent the disease," said Andrzej Joachimiak, the MCSG principal researcher. For example, the structure of a disease-related protein can provide insight into how the protein works normally and how a faulty structure can cause disease. This same structure may reveal how to design drugs to treat that disease.

The Midwest Center for Structural Genomics combines the talents of researchers at Argonne, Northwestern University, University of Toronto, University of Virginia, University College of London, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The center's goal is to cut the average cost for determining the three-dimensional structures of proteins from $100,000 to $20,000. Researchers will also work to slice the time it takes to analyze a protein from months and years to days and hours. The group will also select protein targets from all three kingdoms of life - Eukarya, Archaea and B

Contact: Donna Jones Pelkie
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

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