Structural Biology

Students and faculty in the structural biology and molecular biophysics focus group apply 3D structural techniques and other biophysical methods to the analysis of important biological macromolecules, to drive research and direct the synthesis of novel therapeutics. Structural biology and molecular biophysics applies the principles and techniques of biology, chemistry, computer science, physics and mathematics, to elucidate the governing forces and structures of biological macromolecules, supra-molecular structures, organelles and cells. State-of-the-art facilities at UNMC have been established for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), X-ray crystallography, atomic force microscopy, and molecular biophysics. Creighton University has also established a Structural Proteomics-Bioinfomatics Core to help investigators to understand structural aspects of biological activities of proteins using chiroptic spectroscopy (ECD and VCD) and various theoretical/structural bioinformatics tools. These are the tools necessary to achieve cutting-edge advances in discovery. Atomic images of the arrangement of amino acid side chains in 3D give the atomic details needed to visualize the active sites of enzymes, see the DNA binding sites of transcription factors and view the protein-protein interactions of signaling molecules. Function can be understood through determination of atomic structures followed by sensible application of biophysical methods to measure and interpret the molecular forces involved. These tools uncover the architecture of the macromolecules of life and reveals what causes their action and, in the case of disease, misfunction. Understanding the structure, function and energetics of medically relevant macromolecules can help researchers better understand the causes of cancer and aid in the development of drugs based on the structure of targeted proteins.