Over the last 20 years the emphasis in structural biology has shifted from the technique (crystallography, NMR, etc..) to biological issues. Due to a number of technical advances in both biology and structural analysis, the size and complexity of the macromolecular targets have systematically increased. In a number of cases, this has required the combination of multiple techniques, to be used in an integrated approach, to fully understand the structure, function and dynamics of the biological complex. This is particularly true for protein-nucleic acid complexes, which often show a degree of polymorphism, multiple conformations, presence of disordered regions, a multiplicity of alternative substrates, and so on.
Mrs. Onesti’s research is focused on a number of proteins involved in basic genetic processes, including DNA replication, DNA repair, transcription and translation. In particular, she has focused on helicases, which are molecular motors able to unwind a variety of nucleic acid substrates (DNA, RNA, G-quadruplexes, R-loops, etc..); being essential in nucleic acid metabolism they are becoming novel targets for anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-tumor drugs. The talk covers some of the recent projects, focusing on the use of a combination of macromolecular crystallography and single particle electron microscopy to understand the structure and function of a number of DNA and RNA helicases involved in replication and repair, and thus involved in genetic diseases, cancer development and progression and aging.
Speaker: Silvia Onesti, Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste
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