Technology and Research Platforms

Structural Biology

Our Structural Biology (SB) platform provides facilities and expertise to help determine the three-dimensional structure of proteins (or macromolecules) starting from a purified sample.

We use two main techniques: Protein X-ray Crystallography (PX) and cryo-Electron Microscopy (cryo-EM).

For PX we stock a range of pre-aliquoted commercial and custom screens, for hassle-free setup of crystallisation trials via liquid handling robots, for which full training can be provided. The platform also has a Formulatrix Rock 1 imager which takes detailed extended focus visible and UV light images of your experiments allowing easy identification of suitable crystallisation conditions.

We have regular access to macromolecular crystallography beamlines at the Diamond Light Source for X-ray data collection. The team also arrange the shipping of samples to Diamond, assist with data collection and manage all the subsequent data curation.

For cryo-EM, users can access facilities and support from staff in the Bioimaging Platform for sample preparation and data acquisition. The SB Platform supports the remainder of the cryo-EM workflow by providing access to high performance computing and high-capacity data storage facilities, and assistance with 3D reconstruction.

We recommend contacting the team before beginning your structural biology project, as they can offer advice on construct design, sample quality and sample quantity. They can also advise on protein purification.

Depending on the level of user expertise, platform staff are available to help with any of the subsequent steps necessary to determine your structure.

There are three main modes of operation available:

  • Trained users do their own experiments
  • Platform staff perform the work
  • A mixture of the above (which may include user training and harvesting of crystals)

If you are interested in using the SB Platform, contact David Lawson or Julia Mundy to discuss what you would like to achieve. We will offer advice on likely costs, timescales and feasibility.

We also offer a 3D protein model printing service, turning your in silico models into physical objects which are perfect as gifts, desk accessories and outreach props.