Crystallising membrane proteins is very hard – proteins are big complex flexible molecules, and to make life even harder membrane proteins live in a soft back-to-back double layer of soap-like molecules. But we need crystals of membrane proteins to use X-ray diffraction to determine the protein’s detailed structure, and we need this structure to design drugs to target membrane proteins. So crystallising membrane proteins is both tough and an important problem.
The consortium aims to develop new, more rational, approaches to crystallising membrane proteins, and to train 12 PhD students to do this.
Above are crystals of a membrane protein grown by Heidi Burke now of Sanofi Genzyme, but then Tufts Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences.
This webpage is work in progress …