The York Structural Biology Laboratory currently comprises around 70 staff and PhD students, including thirteen academic staff and one professor emerita. The laboratory's research can be categorised broadly under three main headings:
- Structural Biology: The determination of the structure(s) of proteins and their complexes with other proteins, nucleic acids and ligands. Increasing use of high throughput technologies means that many hundreds of different proteins are under study at any one time, with the targets selected on the basis of their biochemical or biological function. In addition, there is great expertise in York in protein chemistry and crystallisation for tackling challenging proteins, such as multi-molecular complexes or membrane proteins. When integrated with exploration of the cell and molecular biology of the targets, the structural work is providing major insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying biological function.
- Chemical Biology and Biological Chemistry: The group has considerable strength in probing the chemistry of biological processes in areas such as structural enzymology, reaction mechanisms and fundamental studies of molecular interactions. There is also growing interest in biocatalysis: the discovery, optimisation and exploitation of enzymes for chemical synthesis. In addition, the group is using structure based methods to design ligands to act as chemical tools to disrupt and probe the biology of specific proteins and pathways.
- Crystallographic Methods: York is world renowned for the development of the experimental and in particular computational methods used by crystallographers worldwide. This includes new approaches in molecular replacement and refinement (MOLREP, REFMAC) as well as increased streamlining model building into electron density (QUANTA and COOT). York is also a major centre for the UK collaborative effort in crystallographic computing, CCP4.
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