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Structural Biology is the branch of biology which embarks the importance of biophysics and biochemistry in the molecular structure of biological macromolecules. It also provides information about the effect of structural alterations of macromolecules on their function. This process of determination of structures of proteins, nucleic acids may take years as the shape, size and assemblies of these molecules may be altering the function.
Proteomics is the newest and the most discussed topic in the field of Structural Biology. It deals with determining the structure and function of proteins- the building blocks of the human body. It found its importance after the introduction of the Human Genome Project. Almost every process that occurs in our cells – from the metabolization of simple sugar to the division of cells – is dependent on proteins for smooth operation.
Genomics is the study of structure, working, mapping and alteration of genomes. The entire arrangement of DNA- the information centre of our body is known as genomics. Proteomics and Genomics are interrelated. Proteomics involve the study of structural determination of the body whereas Genomics involve the study of genetic makeup of the body.
Biochemistry is the study of chemical processes taking place inside the human body. Recently this subject has found its importance in the biological world as it has found its importance in all fields of life science and biology. By controlling information flow through biochemical signalling and the flow of chemical energy through metabolism, biochemical processes give rise to the complexity of life. Its main focus is to understand how biological molecules give rise to the processes that occur within living cells.
Biophysics is the trending topic in the field of biology. It relates physics and biology. In other words, it signifies how traditional physical methods are used to study the biological phenomena inside the human body. Biophysical research shares significant overlap with biochemistry, molecular biology, physical chemistry, physiology, nanotechnology, bioengineering, computational biology, biomechanics and systems biology.
Molecular Biology is a vast topic which deals with the structure and function of macromolecules. It is usually combined with techniques of Genetics and Biochemistry. Till 2000, Molecular genetics was the sub-field of Molecular Biology. Since Molecular Biology is mostly quantitative it’s in edge with computational biology and bioinformatics. Other zones of Biology focus directly or indirectly on molecules, whereas developmental biology and cell biology focus directly, while phylogenetic and evolutionary biology focus indirectly. Genetics deals with study of mutants and its comparison with the wild type (normal phenotype).
Biomolecules are very small to see in detail even by most cutting-edge light microscopes. The methods that the structural biologists use to determine their structures in general involve the measurements on huge numbers of identical molecules at the same time. Some of the best methods include X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance. Apart from these methods there are many additional methods through which 3 D Structure Determination can be done.
- X-ray crystallography
- Nuclear Magnetic Resonances
- Cryo-Electron Microscopy
- Mass spectroscopy
- Dual polarisation interferometry
- Multi-angle light scattering Technique
- Ultra-fast laser spectroscopy
Computational approaches are a boon for structural biology. These methods use the concepts of bioinformatics to determine the structure of macromolecules. In general, the structure of molecules is determined by experimental methods is both time intense and cost effective. To overcome these constraints, computational approaches like ab-initio modelling, homology modelling and threading method are used.
Molecular modelling involves the hypothetical and computational procedures which are used to mimic the behaviour of macromolecules. Molecular modelling techniques are used in various fields some of which are drug design, computational chemistry, materials science and computational biology. These methods are used for studying and understanding the properties of the molecules. One of the major applications of molecular modelling is molecular simulation. This is the technique which uses powerful lculatiocomputers to simulate the interactions between atoms and to understand the properties of materials. Such simulations involve methods that range from very detailed quantum mechanical cans on atoms to coarse-grained classical dynamics of large groups of molecules on a timescale of milliseconds or longer.
A biomarker is an attribute that can be studied as an indicator of pathogenic and biological operation along with pharmacological retort to a therapeutic involvement. They indicate either normal or diseased activity in the body. Biomarkers are specific molecules, genes, gene products, hormones, cells or enzymes.
Drug designing is an inventive process to find new medication centred on the knowledge of biological target. Drug is most commonly a small molecule that inhibits or activates the function of a biomolecule, which in turn outcomes in a therapeutic benefit to the patient. Drug design commonly but not essentially relies on computational techniques. This type of modelling is often mentioned to as computer-aided drug design.
Signalling is the process through which the cells communicate with each other. They are often secreted from the cell and released into the extracellular space. Regulation of gene expression comprises a comprehensive range of mechanisms that are used by cells to regulate the production of specific gene products, and is familiarly termed as gene regulation. Sophisticated programs of gene expression are extensively observed in biology, for example to trigger developmental pathways, adapt to new food sources, or respond to environmental stimuli.
Sequence analysis can be explained as a process of exposing DNA, RNA or peptide sequence to a wide range of analytical methods in order to understand its structure, function and evolution. The methods include sequence alignment and biological databases. Synergistic use of three-dimensional structures and deep sequencing is done to realize the effect of personalized medicine. The usage of sequence analysis in structural biology will pave the way to new methods which can be utilized to determine the structure of molecules.
This is a cost effective approach for determining the protein structure. The computational prediction methods, such as initiating fragment assembly, advanced fold recognition, composite approaches, and molecular docking are regularly applied in recent times to expand our understanding of protein structures. Hybrid approach is a channel to overcome these disadvantages, by incorporating limited experimental measurements, reliable structures can be computed, and unlikely predictions are eliminated. The current researches are showing great interest in this method of approach.
Structural bioinformatics is an exceptionally cost-effective solution for protein structure determination. Purely computational prediction methods, like ab initio fragment assembly, advanced fold recognition, composite approaches, and molecular docking are regularly applied today to extend our understanding of protein structures. However, predicted structures are not given the same reliance as their experimental complements. Hybrid approaches are a means to overcome these limitations; by incorporating limited experimental measurements, reliable structures can be computed, and unlikely predictions eliminated. Hybrid approaches take advantage of data derived from a wide range of different biophysical and biochemical methods. These methods are of growing interest in current researches of structural biology.
The main focus of a structural biologist is protein structure determination and drug design. Protein plays an important role in human body. Living things would not exist without proteins. The proteins are usually involved in all forms of expressions of the living organism. Most of the proteins are evolved in providing structure to the cell while the others tend to bin and carry vital molecules all through the body. Some proteins are involved in biochemical reactions in the body which are termed as enzymes. Others are involved in muscle contractions and immunity. Structure determination of proteins has always been a challenging filed. The complex areas in the field include viruses, pathogens, membrane proteins and signalling pathways. Novel progressions are being done in the arenas of nano-patterning and multi-scale modelling of cell signalling proteins
The main aim of integrating structural biology data into cancer research is to design and discover novel and effective drugs to cure the disease. Structural biology combined with molecular modelling mainly aims at drug designing. Consequently, a number of Structural Biologists are conducting cancer research, to speed-up the process of understanding the mechanism of biomolecules in order to improve the newer cancer therapies.
Molecular techniques are used in molecular biology, biochemistry and genetics for the analysis of DNA, RNA and protein. Molecular cloning is the widely used molecular technique. The different methods in molecular biology are Haemocytometer cell counter, Restriction enzyme digestion, DNA ligation, transfection, western blot, plasmid purification, electroporation, heat shock method and ELISA.
A database is an organised collection of data. As a result of enormous research which is being done in Structural biology massive data has been produced. In order to assemble the data in a catalogued manner, bioinformatics databases are used. Various databases have been created to store biological data, such as sequence databases, structure databases, signalling pathway databases, etc.
Structural biology is one of the progressing fields. In the course of time many developments have been taking place. Huge numbers of solved structures have exaggerated rapidly. The field of drug design and drug discovery has been advanced. Functional annotations are another field where progressions are rapidly evolving. Alterations in order to improve the effectiveness of prevailing tools can also be noted. Remarkable advances have been made in the areas of technical imaging and advancement of hybrid methods to understand the structure and function of proteins.