The relevance of structural biology in studying molecules involved in parasite-host interactions – potential for designing new interventions
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New interventions against infectious diseases require a detailed knowledge and understanding of pathogen-host interactions and pathogeneses at the molecular level. The combination of the considerable advances in systems biology research with methods to explore the structural biology of molecules is poised to provide new insights into these areas. Importantly, exploring three-dimensional structures of proteins is central to understanding disease processes, and establishing structure-function relationships assists in identification and assessment of new drug and vaccine targets. Frequently, the molecular arsenal deployed by invading pathogens, and in particular parasites, reveals a common theme whereby families of proteins with conserved three-dimensional folds play crucial roles in infectious processes, but individual members of such families show high levels of specialisation, which is often achieved through grafting particular structural features onto the shared overall fold. Accordingly, the applicability of predictive methodologies based on the primary structure of proteins or genome annotations is limited, particularly when thorough knowledge of molecular-level mechanisms is required. Such instances exemplify the need for experimental three-dimensional structures provided by protein crystallography, which remain an essential component of this area of research. In the present article, we review two examples of key protein families recently investigated in our laboratories, which could represent intervention targets in the metabolome or secretome of parasites.
Australian Journal of Chemistry
© 2014 CSIRO. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.