BaCaTeC-Summer School 2004

Prof. Dr. Paul Rösch,
Dr. Stephan Schwarzinger 

Lehrstuhl Biopolymere,
Universität Bayreuth

Prof. Dr. Peter E. Wright 

Department of Molecular Biology 
The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla

NMR Spectroscopy of Biomolecular Complexes

BaCaTeC Summer School, October 3rd - 8th 2004, NMR Center Bayreuth, Bayreuth (Germany)

More information

Complexes of biological macromolecules, such as proteins and nucleic acids, are involved in important biological events such as transcription, protein synthesis, and protein degradation. Interplay of these molecules becomes important in essentially all known diseases. Information on the interaction sites of the individual components of such complexes is a prerequisite for understanding mechanisms of disease and for developing new therapeutics. Obtaining highly resolved three dimensional structures of disease-related biomolecular assemblies is therefore of highest interest for pharmaceutical industry. Knowledge of the sequence of the Human Genome and thus, in principle, of basically the sequences of all proteins in humans, widens the demand for specialists able to determine structures of the individual constituent parts of biomolecular complexes of as well as the complexes in their entirety.

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is the only method that provides high resolution structures in solution. Recent advances have extended the size limit (up to hundreds of kDa) of this method and increased its sensitivity dramatically. As a result, NMR can be efficiently used to determine structures of entire complexes or of selected parts thereof, e.g. for fitting structures into low resolution models obtained by other methods, and for high-throughput screening applications. NMR is the only method currently available that can provide high resolution characterization of flexible biomolecules, information on transient interactions between biomolecules, and information on functionally-relevant molecular motions.

This Summer School will train students and post-doctoral researchers in the process of obtaining structural information of biomolecular assemblies suitable for solving biomedically relevant problems. Aiming to provide information beyond textbook knowledge, participants will be introduced to all stages of structure determination of complexes. This will include, e.g., sample preparation, selection of experiments, data analysis, structure calculation and refinement, and structure validation. Participants will acquire a sound overview and sophisticated problem-oriented skills in the course of this Summer School, which is organized by Prof. Paul Rösch and Dr. Stephan Schwarzinger from Lehrstuhl Biopolymere, Universität Bayreuth, Germany, andProf. Peter E. Wright from the Department of Molecular Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA.

Final report

The first international BaCaTeC Summer School took place from October 3rd to October 8th in Bayreuth, Germany. The topic of the Summer School 2004 was "NMR of Biomolecular Complexes". On Sunday, October 3rd, 48 scientists from seven different countries met for mixer (California: 9 from 7 different groups; Bavaria: 12 from 7 groups, Bayreuth: 10 from 3 groups; remaining Germany: 10 from 5 groups; Belgium and The Netherlands: 2 each; France and India: one each). Most participants were Ph.D.-students whose area of work was closely related to the Summer School's topic. However, there were also 14 PhD's, who were mostly from academia except two industrial researchers. For participants from both, California and Bavaria, the total number of 20 grants covering accommodation and providing assistance towards travel expenses could be awarded.

The scientific program stated early on Monday morning with a lecture series with the focus on the basic aspects of biomolecular NMR-spectroscopy and the structure determination of proteins, nucleic acids, and their complexes. In the course of practice-oriented case studies, which were presented in the second half of the week, more detailed knowledge on structure determination of biomolecular complexes was taught. Besides aspects on the determination of structures of proteins and nucleic acids the focus was also on the presentation of methodological advances as well as the determination of dynamics of biological macromolecules. For teaching these rather complex matters 24 internationally renowned speakers and instructors from seven countries could be invited.

The scientific talks were extended by practical exercises and two poster sessions. In the course of the poster sessions more than 30 posters of high scientific value were presented. The practical exercises were very well received by the participant of the Summer School. By choosing the University of Bayreuth as location for the Summer School it was possible to take advantage of the NMR-equipment present at the Lehrstuhl Biopolymere. NMR-exercises, e.g. on setting-up and optimizing NMR-experiments, could be held on four high-field spectrometers ranging from 400 to 800 MHz. In parallel sessions, exercises on two computer farms were given on processing of NMR-spectra, calculation of NMR-structures, and on docking of biomolecular macromolecules.

The Summer School was also received with great interest by the industry. The two leading suppliers of NMR-spectrometers, Bruker Biospin and Varian Inc., have each sent a speaker, who gave highly interesting scientific presentations. Moreover, it was possible to welcome representatives from three major suppliers of reagents used in biomolecular NMR-spectroscopy with a booth at the Summer School.

The supporting program of the first international BaCaTeC Summer School included a guided excursion to the medieval old town of Bamberg, which is an UNESCO world heritage. The excursion ended with a common lunch in a typical Franconian brewery-restaurant. Both, excursion and dinner were very well received by participants as well as speakers. Similarly, the conference banquet with traditional Bavarian specialties was a great success. In the course of this banquet the prizes for the best posters were awarded. The banquet culminated in a key note lecture given by Nobel laureate Prof. Dr. Robert Huber on X-ray crystallography as another method of determining structures of biomolecular macromolecules.


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