NCCR "Structural Biology - Molecular Life Sciences: Three Dimensional Structure, Folding and Interactions" (2001-2013)

NCCR Director: Prof. Markus Grütter (2001-2013)

Home Institution: University of Zurich

Research in the NCCR and major results

The NCCR “Structural Biology - Molecular Life Sciences: Three Dimensional Structure, Folding and Interactions” focused its research activities on the three key areas membrane proteins, supramolecular assemblies and development of new technologies. Much has been achieved in each area.

In the area of “membrane proteins”, the NCCR’s research focused on a specific type of so-called transporters, which are central to the function of cells since they allow or actively regulate the diffusion or movement of substances into the cell. The major highlights in this area were the elucidation of the crystal structures of many of these systems and the understanding of the mechanism of these clinically relevant channels and transporters. In the area of supramolecular assemblies, specific aspects in the systems DNA, ribosomes and protein filaments were studied. The atomic structure of the nucleosome and the chromatin fibre in the DNA was elucidated. In addition, the researchers determined the first complete structures of ribosomal subunits in more highly developed cells. Finally, research in the NCCR generated some basic insights into so-called filaments of bacteria that are critical for bacterial virulence as they allow a better interlinkage to certain surfaces.

The technology developed by the NCCR was based on an extensive set of methods from protein engineering, structure determination technologies (such as x-ray, nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMR) and electron microscopy) as well as single molecule spectroscopy and computational approaches.

Overview of NCCR projects and of participating research groups (PDF, 42 KB)