X-ray macromolecular crystallography

To understand life at the molecular level, determining the structure of the thousands of macromolecules in the cell, such as proteins and nucleic acids, reveals insights into how they function and also how they fail eg. in disease causing mutations. Seeing how drug candidates interact with their target can also help further optimizing their design.

X-ray crystallography is a powerful method to elucidate macromolecular structures at atomic resolution. The first step is obtaining a pure sample, which is tested in various crystallization conditions in order obtain crystals. After crystallization of your target protein, potentially in complex with a ligand or an interaction partner, the crystals are exposed to X-rays in front of a detector. The reflections recorded from such a diffraction experiment are then used to calculate an electron density map. Using this data, we are able to build and refine a model of molecules in the crystal.

The AU team

The research team at Molecular Biology and Genetics (AU) is led by professor Poul Nissen and utilizes X-ray crystallography to explore the structure and function of biomolecules. As crystallization of proteins requires high purity and fairly large amounts, we can also with expression and purification of difficult targets, including membrane proteins.

The team is located at the Section for Structural Biology within the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, and is part of DANDRITE, the Danish node of the Nordic EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine.

The researchers at DANDRITE investigate the molecular mechanisms that control the signalling and communication pathways in the brain and nervous system. These are of great importance for behaviour, senses and consciousness, as well as for neurological and psychiatric conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression and schizophrenia.

DANDRITE stands for “The Danish Research Institute of Translational Neuroscience”, and plays on the word ”dendrite”, the network structure of nerve cells. Translational neuroscience encompasses that we aim for translating the new knowledge into new strategies in diagnostic and clinical practice for neurological and psychiatric diseases, as well as drug discovery and spin-out activities.

Poul Nissen
Poul NissenLINX Scientific Director, Professor
Aarhus University, Institut for Molekylærbiologi og Genetik – DANDRITE
Gustav Wieds Vej 10, building 3130, 2.02
8000 Aarhus C, Danmark

E-mail: pn@mbg.au.dk
Tel.: +45 2899 2295 or +45 8715 5508

Thomas Lykke-Møller Sørensen
Thomas Lykke-Møller SørensenLector at Aarhus University (AU)
Dept. Molecular Biology and Genetics
Aarhus University
Gustav Wieds Vej 10
8000 Aarhus C

E-mail: tlms@eng.au.dk
Tel.: +45 9352 1443

Read more about The LINX Team.