Structural Biology Shared Service
David Weber, PhD
Ronald Gartenhaus, MD
The Structural Biology Shared Service (SBSS) helps researchers use the unique information derived from macromolecular structures to understand the molecular basis of cancer-causing cellular defects and to design drugs that mitigate such defects.
SBSS is comprised of the X-ray Crystallography Shared Service (XRSS) and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Shared Service (NMRSS). Together, these two facilities offer different technical approaches that work in synergy to promote the mission of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center (UMGCCC). This includes consultations with users to
- choose the structural biology method(s) that will most efficiently address the needs of principal investigators (PIs) and
- develop a strategy for obtaining sufficient quantities of sample(s) for the structural project to proceed.
Data acquired from x-ray experiments yield atomic level detail about important macromolecules and macromolecular complexes. However, diffraction quality crystals must be produced, which can be a significant challenge. NMR does not require crystals but is not appropriate to determine the structures of large macromolecules. Because it is solution-based, NMR can provide information about the dynamics of macromolecules that cannot be obtained from x-ray crystallography. Ideally, both techniques are used to more fully describe the mode of action of important proteins, protein complexes, and nucleic acids.
SBSS is committed to providing the advanced instrumentation and collaborative environment needed to integrate structural biology into the research programs at UMGCCC. The effectiveness of SBSS depends on maintaining this environment through active engagement with UMGCCC researchers, which is the mission of this cancer center.