structs vs reality?

Erik Forbes Y. Hom ehom at
Wed Feb 26 02:51:02 EST 1997

> Hi,
> I'm writing my thesis now, so I'm starting to 
> ponder the big questions.  Here's my current one:
> How well do xray or NMR structures actually model
> reality in vivo?  
> I've seen some old papers showing that some enzymes
> still work in the crystalline state, but there 
> must be something else about this.
> Can anyone point me toward some references?  
> Thanks!

Hi John, 

Good question.  Here's an old paper that discusses this issue, which I'm
sure you'll find of interest:

Fulton, A.B (1982). "How Crowded is the Cytoplasm," Cell:30(2):345-7.

You can do a citation search on this article - I'm sure you'll pick up the
relevant papers this way.  Also, Allen Minton (and S. Zimmerman...) at NIH
work on macromolecular crowding issues which are of immediate importance
to your question - so there's local experts you could ask (have you
contacted them?).  They wrote a review in the 1993 Ann. Rev. Biophys. &
Biomolec. Struct. (ARBBS) you should definitely read if you haven't.  You
could also look into this year's (and last year's(?)) ARBBS for reviews on
time-resolved (so-called "4D") crystallography; observing catalysis events
is one of the goals of the next generation of crystallographers - they
surely will address the question you raised.

If you find anything particularly interesting, I wouldn't mind hearing
about it!  I hope this helps...Good luck!


Erik Forbes Y. Hom
McCammon Research Group
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
        and Department of Pharmacology
University of California at San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive, Dept. 0365
La Jolla, CA 92093-0365, USA
Lab: 619-822-0168
Fax: 619-534-7042
E-mail: ehom at

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