Université de Strasbourg

Fellows Seminar - Biocrystallography: from the DNA double helix to molecular cinema

April 11, 2024
From 15:00 until 16:30
MISHA, Strasbourg

Image: © Claude Sauter

By Claude Sauter, 2021 Fellow

Since the 1960s, crystallography has made a decisive contribution to the development of molecular biology thanks to its ability to reveal the innermost secrets of biomolecules and their complexes at the atomic scale. In a brief historical perspective, we will see that most of our understanding of biological systems relies on crystallographic data, from the structure of DNA and proteins to complex cellular nanomachines and viruses.

In practice, biomolecules are purified from living organisms; they are subsequently crystallized and their crystals are analyzed using X-rays to collect diffraction patterns that tell us about the nature and spatial organization of atoms in the crystals. Over the past decade crystallography has undergone a technological revolution with the advent of ultra-intense X-ray sources – X-ray free electron lasers (XFEL) and 4th generation synchrotrons – that enable faster-than-ever analysis of crystals and a time-resolved approach of biological processes.

In other words, crystallography is moving from static images to the era of molecular cinema revealing dynamic pictures of cellular life. The numerous perspectives in terms of enzymology, drug design or biotechnology will be illustrated by a virtual reality immersion in a crystallographic experience at the synchrotron and studies carried out at the Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology (IBMC) with the support of USIAS.

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