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BER Research Highlights

"Protein Hugs"
Published: February 04, 2004
Posted: March 01, 2004

On January 20, 2004, the radio show "Earth and Sky," broadcast to over 600 radio stations domestically and more overseas, featured Argonne National Laboratory biologist Lee Makowski who has funding from the Office of Science. Makowski described his research using x-ray scattering to determine the shapes of proteins and the interactions between proteins and small molecules. He explained how molecules in cells don't have cell phones to make meeting arrangements and that they need elaborate "handshakes" to come together to do their work. He also explained that x-ray analysis of proteins requires that proteins be made into rigid crystals, but when proteins interact with small molecules they deform and the crystal structure often unstable. He noted that understanding how proteins deform as they interact with small molecules will likely enable us to design better drugs. This same understanding will enable the Genomics:GTL program to develop biotechnology solutions to address DOE missions. Text of the broadcast and background interviews are available at

Contact: John Houghton, SC-72, (301) 903-8288
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Structural Biology, Biomolecular Characterization and Imaging
  • Legacy: Medical Applications

Division: SC-33.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER
      (formerly SC-72 Life Sciences Division, OBER)


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