The Architecture et Fonction des Macromolécules Biologiques laboratory (AFMB, http://www.afmb.univ-mrs.fr), a research centre in structural biology located on the campus of Luminy, Marseille, France, is affiliated to the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
) and Aix-Marseille Université (AMU) and is a component of the federative structure “Infectiopôle, du Malade à la Molécule”. The AFMB lab was created well before the worldwide structural genomics initiatives aimed at documenting the structural proteome, but it has rapidly made important contributions to this area through several French and European programs aimed at implementing a multidisciplinary approach to document the architectures of proteins and their functional implications. While protein crystallography has been our pioneering activity and is still the main technique in use in the lab, electron microscopy has recently been developed as a complementary technique to address large molecular assemblies.
Today, the AFMB lab gathers 7 research teams investigating diversified topics and has developed a complete structural proteomics platform that brings together facilities for parallel and robotized cloning, expression, purification and crystallization activities through high-throughput approaches, and which is extensively used by both internal and external users. Coupled to a medicinal chemistry biology activity, a second platform has been developed for rapid screening of libraries of chemical compounds through automated activity assays aimed at identifying potential antiviral drugs. The world-renowned expertise and hardware required for specialized bioinformatics applied to databases dedicated to carbohydrate-active enzymes or viral enzymes and to structure computation are present as well. With these powerful capabilities we are now facing new challenges towards the discovery of new, surprising and fascinating structural architectures associated to crucial functions in biological sciences.
Yves Bourne, AFMB Director.