The grant, from the National Institutes of Health, provides funds for the Midwest Center for Structural Genomics, a large-scale center of the Protein Structure Initiative headed by Argonne's Andrezej Joachimiak, principal investigator on the project. With this funding, Argonne researchers, in collaboration with biologists from around the world, will expand the information available to researchers for biomedically important proteins from humans and pathogens.
The key to understanding a protein is being able to see it. Proteins, because they are so small, can only be seen using intense X-ray sources, such as the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne. Using X-rays to produce an image of protein is often called "determining the structure" of the protein. The researchers are refining existing methods for structure determination, making a process that used to take years into an automated pipeline that can be completed in weeks. The automated process allows structure determination that used to cost more than $500,000 per structure to now be accomplished for less than $50,000. The process is now producing more than 250 protein structures each year. Ultimately, the project seeks to determine the structures of enough proteins that the structures of any new ones could be computed on the basis of structures already known.
"The project in structural genomics is a complex one, combining the fields of biology, computer science and physics to do that work," said Bob Rosner, Argonne director. "Biologists are finding new ways to quickly copy proteins for analysis; computer scientists are developing faster computers and computer programs to deal with the ma
Contact: Catherine Foster
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory