Peking Univ, Natl Lab Prot Engn & Plant Genet Engn, Beijing 100871, Peoples R China
; Chinese Acad Sci, Inst High Energy Phys, Beijing Synchrotron Radiat Facil, Beijing 100049, Peoples R China
A large- scale, high- efficiency and low- cost platform based on a Beckman Coulter Biomek FX and custom- made automation systems for structural genomics has been set up at Peking University, Beijing, People's Republic of China. This platform has the capacity to process up to 2000 genes per year for structural and functional analyses. Bacillus subtilis, a model organism for Gram- positive bacteria, and Streptococcus mutans, a major pathogen of dental caries, were selected as the main targets. To date, more than 470 B. subtilis and 1200 S. mutans proteins and hundreds of proteins from other sources, including human liver proteins, have been selected as targets for this platform. The selected genes are mainly related to important metabolism pathways and/ or have potential relevance for drug design. To date, 40 independent structures have been determined; of these 11 are in the category of novel structures by the criterion of having less than 30% sequence identity to known structures. More than 13 structures were determined by SAD/ MAD phasing. The macromolecular crystallography beamline at the Beijing Synchrotron Radiation Facility and modern phasing programs have been crucial components of the operation of the platform. The idea and practice of the genomic approach have been successfully adopted in a moderately funded structural biology program and it is believed this adaptation will greatly improve the production of protein structures. The goal is to be able to solve a protein structure of moderate difficulty at a cost about US $ 10 000.