Structural biology

Definition

Structural biology is the study of the molecular structure and dynamics of biological macromolecules, particularly proteins and nucleic acids, and how alterations in their structures affect their function. Structural biology incorporates the principles of molecular biology, biochemistry and biophysics.

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  • News and Views |

    The peptide-loading complex is key to the initiation of an immune response that raises killer T cells in vertebrates. Its structure has now been determined, and might provide information that improves immune protection.

    • Hidde Ploegh
    Nature 551, 442–443

Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research |

    Cryo-electron microscopy analysis of yeast Rad26 bound to RNA polymerase II provides insight into the initiation of the transcription-coupled DNA repair mechanism in eukaryotes.

    • Jun Xu
    • , Indrajit Lahiri
    • , Wei Wang
    • , Adam Wier
    • , Michael A. Cianfrocco
    • , Jenny Chong
    • , Alissa A. Hare
    • , Peter B. Dervan
    • , Frank DiMaio
    • , Andres E. Leschziner
    •  & Dong Wang
  • Research | | open

    Target of rapamycin (TOR) kinase operates within two distinct multiprotein complexes named TORC1 and TORC2. Here the authors report a cryo-EM structure of TORC2, establish its subunit organization, providing a rationale for TORC2’s rapamycin insensitivity and the mutually exclusive inclusion of Avo3/Rictor or Raptor within their respective TOR complex.

    • Manikandan Karuppasamy
    • , Beata Kusmider
    • , Taiana M. Oliveira
    • , Christl Gaubitz
    • , Manoel Prouteau
    • , Robbie Loewith
    •  & Christiane Schaffitzel
  • Research | | open

    Some bacteria can use inorganic phosphite and hypophosphite as sources of inorganic phosphorus. Here, the authors report crystal structures of the periplasmic proteins that bind these reduced phosphorus species and show that a P-H…π interaction between the ligand and binding site determines their specificity.

    • Claudine Bisson
    • , Nathan B. P. Adams
    • , Ben Stevenson
    • , Amanda A. Brindley
    • , Despo Polyviou
    • , Thomas S. Bibby
    • , Patrick J. Baker
    • , C. Neil Hunter
    •  & Andrew Hitchcock
  • Research | | open

    Primase is the specialised DNA-dependent RNA polymerase responsible for the initiation of DNA synthesis during DNA replication. Here the authors use a structural biology approach to identify the initiation site in the S. solfataricus PriSLX primase and to demonstrate that its Fe-S cluster is dispensable for primer synthesis.

    • Sandro Holzer
    • , Jiangyu Yan
    • , Mairi L. Kilkenny
    • , Stephen D. Bell
    •  & Luca Pellegrini
  • Research | | open

    The transmembrane receptor integrin is activated by talin, but so far it has remained elusive how talin is recruited to the plasma membrane. Here, the authors identify the Rap1-mediated membrane-targeting mechanism for talin, present the Rap1b/talin-F0 structure and show that talin is a direct Rap1b effector.

    • Liang Zhu
    • , Jun Yang
    • , Thomas Bromberger
    • , Ashley Holly
    • , Fan Lu
    • , Huan Liu
    • , Kevin Sun
    • , Sarah Klapproth
    • , Jamila Hirbawi
    • , Tatiana V. Byzova
    • , Edward F. Plow
    • , Markus Moser
    •  & Jun Qin
  • Research | | open

    Coronaviruses have a relatively high mutation rate, potentially allowing fast adaptation to changing pressures. Here, Wong et al. provide the structure of the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the human coronavirus HCoV-229E and its receptor and analyze the evolution of the RBD over the past 50 years.

    • Alan H. M. Wong
    • , Aidan C. A. Tomlinson
    • , Dongxia Zhou
    • , Malathy Satkunarajah
    • , Kevin Chen
    • , Chetna Sharon
    • , Marc Desforges
    • , Pierre J. Talbot
    •  & James M. Rini

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