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Building the whole cell from pieces

d likenesses between different machines if the shapes of two molecules are very similar to a pair known to interact in another complex, they are likely to fit together in the same way. Building upwards from such pairs, the researchers were sometimes able to obtain a diagram for a machine. "This gave us a way of bridging the resolution gap between fuzzy pictures of cell machines and more detailed atomic pictures of their individual parts," Aloy comments.

"Once we have an assembly plan for an individual machine, we know what parts of the molecules would be on the outside surface, available for interaction with other complexes," Russell explains. "Then we could go through the pair-wise matching procedure again to see if we can connect machines to form a network. We then start to get an idea of what large parts of the cell look like."

Several groups in the Structural and Computational Biology Programme at EMBL are now combining efforts to study complexes and cellular structures using computational and experimental techniques.

"This study has built a solid framework for further research with the great advantage that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts: new experiments will improve it continuously", Aloy says. "The number of machines that we can place into the network will increase exponentially, providing an ever more complete molecular anatomy of the cell."


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Contact: Trista Dawson
dawson@embl.de
49-6221-387-452
European Molecular Biology Laboratory
25-Mar-2004


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