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Survivin in 3-D
Scientists at the Salk Institute have deciphered the three-dimensional structure of survivin, the molecule that allows survival of cells that would normally undergo programmed cell death, apoptosis. (M.A. Verdecia et al., "Structure of the human anti-apoptosis protein survivin reveals a dimeric arrangement," Nature Structural Biology, 7:602-8, July 2000). Survivin is turned on in almost half the malignancies seen in the clinic--including breast, lung, prostate, and colon cancers, points out Salk associate professor Joseph P. Noel, senior author of the study. Having the first atomic resolution view of the protein--achieved through X-ray crystallography--and knowing the chemistry associated with the amino acids allow researchers "to make predictions about how survivin works, what it binds to, and maybe how to inhibit its function through structure-based drug design," Noel says. Survivin, discovered by Dario Altieri at Yale University (R. Wade...