Activities at EMBL Grenoble focus on integrated structural biology research, and on developing state-of-the art instrumentation, methods and services. The 3D structure of a biological molecule can tell you a lot about what that molecule does – and how its biological activity might be blocked or altered, for example to treat a disease.
Scientists at EMBL Grenoble determine 3D structures of human and viral proteins to understand how they interact with the nucleic acids DNA and RNA. To do so, they work closely with instrumentation developers and colleagues across the European Photon and Neutron (EPN) science campus to obtain the best possible data from synchrotron X-ray diffraction or cryo-electron microscopy experiments.
The four institutes join forces in the Partnership for Structural Biology (PSB), which provides a uniquely comprehensive range of state-of-the-art structural biology platforms for sample production, sample characterisation and structure determination for both in house research and external users.
Scientists at EMBL Grenoble have, via the PSB, access to a wide range of techniques, including molecular biology and protein expression, biophysical instrumentation, negative stain and cryo-electron microscopy, isotope labelling, nuclear magnetic resonance, neutron scattering, X-ray crystallography, and small angle scattering and imaging.
A cornerstone of EMBL Grenoble's activities is the close interaction with the ESRF, which runs the Extremely Brilliant Source (EBS), the world's first fourth generation of synchrotron. Through the Joint Structural Biology Group (JSBG), EMBL staff collaborate with the ESRF in building and operating state-of-the-art X-ray beamlines, developing associated instrumentation and techniques, and providing expert help to visitors.
EMBL Grenoble also operates the High Throughput Crystallization Facility (HTX lab), which integrates protein crystallisation into efficient structure determination pipelines. This includes the development of the concept of Online Crystallography, a fully automated and remote controlled pipeline combining automated crystal mounting using the CrystalDirect technology and the CRIMS software. The HTX Facility also promotes structure-guided drug design, through automated facilities for ligand and fragment screening. These platforms are available to external users under the EU funded iNEXT-Discovery project and Instruct-ERIC.
A state-of-the-art Eukaryotic Expression Facility is also available at EMBL Grenoble, which features expression of multiprotein complexes in insect and mammalian cells.
EMBL Grenoble has its own in house Glacios cryo-electron microscope for screening and data collection and participates with the other PSB institutes in running a Krios microscope installed at the ESRF for external users.
With specialist research groups and teams in both scientific areas research at EMBL Grenoble focuses on structural biology and molecular cell biology.
In addition, a number of technology-focused instrumentation teams provide an invaluable resource of technical know-how and support to aid the scientific community in the structural biology realm.
Scientists in this unit use integrated structural and computational techniques to study biology at scales from molecular structures to organismal communities.
At its sites in Hamburg
and Grenoble, EMBL provides its researchers and hundreds of external users each year with access to world-leading sources of X-ray and neutron radiation, enabling them to study the structures of biological molecules.