Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Sciences

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The study of the three-dimensional structures of biologically important macromolecules and macromolecular complexes at the atomic level in order to gain understanding of the relationship between structure and function. This information provides unique and valuable insights into the evolution of proteins and the biological effects of genetic defects. Three-dimensional structures of macromolecules provide the framework upon which novel chemical, functional, and theoretical studies may be based, and they greatly facilitate rational drug design efforts. Investigators in this area employ state-of-the-art X-ray diffraction instrumentation, a 600 MHz NMR spectrometer, and a variety of electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectrometers for macromolecular structure and dynamics determinations.

The three-dimensional structure of the Wiskott-Aldrich protein (WASP), shown in magenta, bound to another protein, called WIP (blue), was determined using NMR spectroscopy by researchers in the MCW Interdisciplinary Program. Careful examination of the interactions between these two molecules revealed the molecular basis for Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, an inherited disorder that causes serious defects in the function of blood cells.

 

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