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Structural Biology Programme

Crystallography and Protein Engineering Unit

Head of Unit:  Inés Muñoz
Research highlights

This has been a year of growth and exciting changes for this ‘new’ Crystallography and Protein Engineering Unit. It is the result of the inclusion of CNIO’s protein production facility, previously integrated in the Proteomics Unit (Biotechnology Programme), in the Crystallography Unit. The Unit continues to be shared between the Structural Biology and Biocomputing Programme and the Experimental Therapeutics Programme.

Throughout 2016, we have worked closely with the Experimental Therapeutics Programme on several projects, some of them also in collaboration with other CNIO Groups. The scaling up of the production of proteins, like full-length human MASTL, has permitted a wide range of biochemical experiments to take place. Other projects were directly focused on structural characterisation by x-ray crystallography in support of drug discovery, as in the case of the human proteins HASPIN and CDK8/CyclinC complex where we obtained several crystal structures of the protein-ligand complexes (FIGURE). Especially relevant was our continuous work on the production of proteins for the generation of antibodies by the CNIO Monoclonal Antibody Unit (Biotechnology Programme). During 2016, this smooth collaboration has led to the production of several proteins involved in cancer such as CDC25A, IDO1, TDO2, IL11, PDL1, PDL2 or NOMO1.

The Unit also undertakes several collaborations with different CNIO groups. It is noteworthy to mention the collaborations established with CNIO’s Telomeres and Telomerase Group, the Gastrointestinal Cancer Clinical Research Unit, the Epithelial Carcinogenesis Group and the Structural Computational Biology Group. Additionally, the Unit maintains external collaborations with groups at the Physical Chemistry Department (University of Granada), the Environmental Biology Department (CIB-CSIC), the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Department (Roswell Park Cancer Institute, USA), the Department of Biomedicine (University of Bergen, Norway), and the Department of Molecular Engineering (Åarhus University, Denmark).

Finally, the Unit has continued the study of the role of ephrinB2 in different pathologies. This was done by blocking its activity with specific recombinant antibodies generated by us, in collaboration with groups from the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre (UK) and the NCI Center for Cancer Research (USA).