Structural Biology

To understand how the human body works, it’s vital to understand the individual components that work together to sustain life. That’s what scientists in the Institute’s Structural Biology Program seek to do by revealing the molecular architecture of life’s most basic building blocks, notably the vast array of proteins that carry out virtually every biological function.

To do this, they use an array of cutting-edge and gold-standard techniques such as X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), which allows them to discern the structures of these important molecules in stunning detail. Their work is crucial for understanding the processes that underlie every aspect of health, and for improving therapies for diseases such as asthma, cancers, diabetes, neurological conditions and infectious diseases.


Recent Publications

Zhao LH*, Ma S*, Sutkeviciute I*, Shen DD*, Zhou XE, de Waal PW, Li CH, Kang Y, Clark LJ, Jean-Alphonse FG, White AD, Yang D, Dai A, Cai X, Chen J, Li C, Jiang Y, Watanbe T, Gradella TJ, Melcher K, Wang MW#, Vilardaga JP#, Xu HE#, Zhang Y#. 2019. Structure and dynamics of the active human parathyroid hormone receptor-1. Science
* Equal contributions 
# Co-corresponding authors

Yan Y, Zhou EX, Novick SJ, Shaw SJ, Li Y, Brunzelle JS, Hitoshi Y, Griffin PR, Xu HE, Melcher K. 2019. Structures of AMP-activated protein kinase bound to novel pharmacological activators in phosphorylated, non-phosphorylated and nucleotide-free states. J Biol Chem 294(3):953–967.

Haley E, Choi W, Sun W, Du J, Lü L. 2019. Expression and purification of the human lipid-sensitive cation channel TRPC3 for structural determination by single-particle cryo-electron microscopy. J Vis Exp (143).

Li H, Zhao L, Singh R, Ham JN, Fadoju DO, Beah LJH, Zhang Y, Xu Y, Xu HE, Gambello MJ. 2018. The first pediatric case of glucagon receptor defect due to biallelic mutations in GCGR is identified by newborn screening of elevated argenine. Mol Genet Metab Rep 17:46–52.

Gu X, Bridges MD, Yan Y, de Waal PW, Zhou EX, Suino-Powell KM, Xu HE, Hubbell WL, Melcher K. 2018. Conformational heterogeneity of the allosteric drug and metabolite (ADaM) site in AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). J Biol Chem 293(44):16994–17007.


Mark your calendars! The Van Andel Institute Symposium on Structural Biology will be held Sept. 12 — 13.
Registration will open in late spring. Stay tuned for more information.