The Impact of Structural Genomics: Expectations and Outcomes

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Science  20 Jan 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5759, pp. 347-351
DOI: 10.1126/science.1121018

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Structural genomics (SG) projects aim to expand our structural knowledge of biological macromolecules while lowering the average costs of structure determination. We quantitatively analyzed the novelty, cost, and impact of structures solved by SG centers, and we contrast these results with traditional structural biology. The first structure identified in a protein family enables inference of the fold and of ancient relationships to other proteins; in the year ending 31 January 2005, about half of such structures were solved at a SG center rather than in a traditional laboratory. Furthermore, the cost of solving a structure at the most efficient SG center in the United States has dropped to one-quarter of the estimated cost of solving a structure by traditional methods. However, the efficiency of the top structural biology laboratories—even though they work on very challenging structures—is comparable to that of SG centers; moreover, traditional structural biology papers are cited significantly more often, suggesting greater current impact.

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