research advances

Synopses of important developments in the field of structural biology and structural genomics, including advances from the Protein Structure Initiative. The featured articles and technical highlights are specially written for the Structural Biology Knowledgebase, while the research highlights are taken from NPG publications.

December 2008

  • featured articles

    • A pocket guide to GPCRs

      The structure of the G-protein-coupled receptor adenosine receptor A2A reveals differences between its ligand-binding site and those of other family members, and begins to explain this family's diversity.

      Science, doi:10.1126/science.1164772

    • Activating BAX

      The structure of the pro-apoptotic protein BAX with a bound BIM BH3 'death helix' reveals that a previously unsuspected binding site on BAX triggers activation of the BAX cell-death pathway.

      Nature 455, 1076-1081 (2008)

  • research highlights

    • Common ancestry of nuclear pore complex and vesicle-coat proteins

      The crystal structure of two nucleoporins in complex suggests that the NPC scaffold has properties similar to those of vesicle coats.

      Science, doi:10.1126/science.1165886

    • Evolving a better-expressing GPCR

      Researchers describe a method for evolving G protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs) with greater stability and enhanced expression.

      Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105, 14808-14813 (2008)

    • Calcium: An effective get-together

      Three studies provide insights into how calcium depletion is sensed in the endoplasmic reticulum and reveal a unique mechanism for ion channel assembly and activation.

      Nature, doi:10.1038/nature07338

  • technical highlights

    • Methylation boosts protein crystallization

      Reductive methylation is a simple, inexpensive and efficient method for improving the quality of protein crystals for structural studies.

      Nat. Meth. 5, 853-854 (2008)

    • Click for cancer-protein interactions

      The Human Cancer Pathway Protein Interaction Network (HCPIN) website makes structural information about cancer-related proteins easily accessible.

      Mol. Cell. Proteomics 7, 2048-2060 (2008)

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