Structural biology of cellular machines

Wah Chiu, Matthew L. Baker, Steven C. Almo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Multi-component macromolecular machines contribute to all essential biological processes, from cell motility and signal transduction to information storage and processing. Structural analysis of assemblies at atomic resolution is emerging as the field of structural cell biology. Several recent studies, including those focused on the ribosome, the acrosomal bundle and bacterial flagella, have demonstrated the ability of a hybrid approach that combines imaging, crystallography and computational tools to generate testable atomic models of fundamental biological machines. A complete understanding of cellular and systems biology will require the detailed structural understanding of hundreds of biological machines. The realization of this goal demands a concerted effort to develop and apply new strategies for the systematic identification, isolation, structural characterization and mechanistic analysis of multi-component assemblies at all resolution ranges. The establishment of a database describing the structural and dynamic properties of protein assemblies will provide novel opportunities to define the molecular and atomic mechanisms controlling overall cell physiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-150
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Cell Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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