, Volume 8, Issue 2-3, pp 57-65
Date: 01 Aug 2007

Structural genomics as an approach towards understanding the biology of tuberculosis

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Tuberculosis (TB) is a devastating disease of worldwide importance. The availability of the genome sequence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the causative agent, has stimulated a large variety of genome-scale initiatives. These include international structural genomics efforts which have the dual aim of characterising potential new drug targets and addressing key aspects of the biology of Mtb. This review highlights the various ways in which structural analysis has illuminated the biological activities of Mtb gene products, which were previously of unknown or uncertain function. Key information comes from the protein fold, from bound ligands, solvent molecules, ions etc. or from unexpectedly modified amino acid residues. Most importantly, the three dimensional structure of a protein permits the integration of data from many sources, both bioinformatic and experimental, to develop testable functional hypotheses. This has led to many new insights into TB biology.