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Trends Cell Biol. 1999 Dec;9(12):M20-4.

Challenges at the frontiers of structural biology.

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  • 1Laboratories of Molecular Biophysics, Pels Family Center for Biochemistry and Structural Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Ave, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Knowledge of the three-dimensional structures of proteins is the key to unlocking the full potential of genomic information. There are two distinct directions along which cutting-edge research in structural biology is currently moving towards this goal. On the one hand, tightly focused long-term research in individual laboratories is leading to the determination of the structures of macromolecular assemblies of ever-increasing size and complexity. On the other hand, large consortia of structural biologists, inspired by the pace of genome sequencing, are developing strategies to determine new protein structures rapidly, so that it will soon be possible to predict reasonably accurate structures for most protein domains. We anticipate that a small number of complex systems, studied in depth, will provide insights across the field of biology with the aid of genome-based comparative structural analysis.

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