NIH study visualizes proteins involved in cancer cell metabolism

Cryo-EM methods can determine structures of small proteins bound to potential drug candidates.

Scientists using a technology called cryo-EM (cryo-electron microscopy) have broken through a technological barrier in visualizing proteins with an approach that may have an impact on drug discovery and development. They were able to capture images of glutamate dehydrogenase, an enzyme found in cells, at a resolution of 1.8 angstroms, a level of detail at which the structure of the central parts of the enzyme could be visualized in atomic detail. The scientists from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and their colleagues also reported achieving another major milestone, by showing that the shapes of cancer target proteins too small to be considered within the reach of current cryo-EM capabilities can now be determined at high resolution.

Rapid advances in cryo-EM technology, from left to right, show improving resolutions in atomic detail of proteins and drug binding sites.

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This page was last updated on Friday, January 21, 2022