• BIOCRYSTAL FACILITY

    AT
    THE CNR INSTITUTE OF BIOLOGY AND MOLECULAR PATHOLOGY
    AND
    THE DEPARTMENT OF BIOCHEMICAL SCIENCES, UNIVERSITY “LA SAPIENZA”

    Download Biocrystal Facility in pdf

SERVICES

Structural biology is a multidisciplinary research area, involving biophysics, biochemistry, molecular biology and bioinformatics with basic applications in biomedicine and biotechnology.

Macromolecular crystallography is a key technology in structural biology. Thanks to significant advances in the field of synchrotron light sources, expression of recombinant proteins and automation for protein crystal growth of, it is within the reach of molecular biologists.

However, access to these technologies and to large international facilities is not fully exploited by the Italian scientific community, especially in view of future, strategic European programs such as Horizon 2020 which have a specific focus on large facilities.

It is therefore of essential to implement a connection between large international facilities and the Italian scientific community, in order to increase their use by life sciences researchers. These connecting structures shall provide support to users throughout the process of structure determination (choice of the construct, protein production, crystallization, data collection and analysis).

Its aim is also to widen the user community of structural biology large facilities by training and dissemination.

In the context of the CNR Project “FaReBio di Qualità” it has been activated a biocrystallography facility that offers to the CNR scientific network access to production and interpretation of crystals of biological macromolecules.

The aim is to increase the community of Italian users of European facilities and Initiatives such as the European Synchrothron Radiation Facility (ESRF) Instruct, and Partnership for Structural Biology, and therefore the impact of the CNR itself in the field of structural biology.

We will pursue a collaboration with ESRF, also performing joint training at the doctoral and post-doctoral studies at the ESRF facilities, Partnership for Structural Biology and taking advantage of the Instruct and BioStruct-X initiatives. This action aims at approaching the “Horizon 2020″ initiative, which aims at encouraging access to European infrastructure for advanced research.

The Facility has been established at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Pathology of CNR, in collaboration with the Department of Biochemistry of the “Sapienza” University of Rome. During the initial, trial phase the Facility will be dedicated to the CNR scientific network and in particular to groups that are part of the “FaReBio di Qualità” project.

STAFF

A Scientific Committee will verify the adequacy of the proposals submitted by users. It will consist of a structural biologist, a molecular biologist  and the Head of Service.

People
Activities shall be conducted by the following people, coordinated by Dr. Andrea Ilari.

Doc.
ANDREA ILARI

CNR – IBPM

Prof.
BEATRICE VALLONE

Sapienza UniRoma

Prof.
ALBERTO BOFFI

CNR – IBPM

Doc.
CARMELINDA SAVINO

CNR – IBPM

Doc.
ADELE DI MATTEO

CNR – IBPM

Doc.
GIANNI COLOTTI

CNR – IBPM

Doc.
VERONICA MOREA

CNR – IBPM

Doc.
GIOVANNA BOUMIS

Sapienza UniRoma

Giorgio Giardina Sapienza UniRoma

Dott.
GIORGIO GIARDINA

Sapienza UniRoma

Paola Baiocco UniRoma

Dott.ssa
PAOLA BAIOCCO

Sapienza UniRoma

Annarita Fiorillo Sapienza UniRoma

Dott.ssa
ANNARITA FIORILLO

Sapienza UniRoma

Linda Celeste Montemiglio Sapienza UniRoma

Dott.ssa
LINDA CELESTE MONTEMIGLIO

Sapienza UniRoma

Resources

Equipment
Liquid handling robot Phoenix (Art Robbins) to perform crystallization trials with nanovolums of protein (Sapienza University). The crystallization robot is placed in a temperature-and humidity-controlled room (20 ° C and 55%, respectively), dedicated exclusively to crystallization.

Leica stereoscope Z12 cold light equipped with digital camera and sliding platform, for the non-automated control of the crystallization trials.

Cabinets thermostated at 21° C, 4° C and 37° C, with vibration-proof motors (Angelantoni).

Apparatus to test the temperature effect on crystallization conditions, TG40 (Centeo), capable of simultaneously test 5 different temperatures between 2 ° and 60 ° C in 40 wells miniscreen.

Capacity
The current staff can support a limited number of external requests, to be selected according to evaluation by the Scientific Council.

Dissemination of information
Dissemination of knowledge related to biocrystallography and the Service will be performed, both in institutional CNR (Conferences, Website, send documents to users potentially affected) and by organizing courses to highlight the biocrystallography potential of specific research projects.

STRUCTURE OF THE FACILITY

The facility is based on practical and theoretical consultancy at critical steps of protein crystallography, and it is also devoted to dissemination and training.
  1. Setting the biomedical or biotechnological project in the context of structural biology: defining objectives and critical points.
  2. Consulting in the production and purification of proteins.
  3. Crystallization screening using robot, their analysis and optimization initially with our in-house equipment and then supporting the application to European initiatives.
  4. Collection of Diffraction data at synchrotron radiation (ESRF).
  5. Determination of the three-dimensional structure and its analysis (in scientific collaboration).
  6. Assistance and training, in collaboration with ESRF and with groups of molecular biology, for the determination and analysis of the three-dimensional structure of proteins and their functional complexes.

WOW TO APPLY

Access is simple and informal. It is divided into two phases. The first will have a direct contact for guidance with one of the senior members of the Service (via email, phone or skype). In the second the use will fill in a form with a brief description of the project, which will be evaluated by the Scientific Committee. The accepted projects will follow the procedure described on page STRUCTURE OF THE FACILITY Each user will be assigned a scientific manager who will prepare the feasibility study and coordinate the operations of crystallization and data collection. The Facility will interact with users through a personal page on the website, on which materials related to a single project will be available, such as results of bioinformatics, images of crystallization trials, diffraction data and results of analysis of the stability and mono-dispersion of protein samples. The preferred mode for regular updates will be video conferences on the progress of each crystallization project.

USERS AND COLLABORATIONS

Interactions with other projects of CNR, including PON and POR, will be favored. By means of the Scientific Committee, the access of groups from the University “La Sapienza” is possible. Other Universities and “not for profit” Institutions may be entitled to access, with the participation to the costs of each project. Access to payment for other types of users will require specific agreements, especially with respect to access to synchrotron facilities (ESRF).

EVALUATION OF THE PERFORMANCE OF THE FACILITY

The activities of the Service will be reviewed annually by the Scientific Committee, which will draw up a report to be submitted to the CNR competent bodies to assess the need to continue it and possibly strengthen it.

CONTACT

How to reach us

The Department is located in the main campus of the University.
The main entrance of the University is in P.le Aldo Moro, 5 however the secondary entrance on Viale Regina Elena, 332 is closer to the Department.

By Train
The Department is about 1.5 Km from the main railway station (Termini). From there, you can either take a taxi (please use only official white taxis) or take the metro line B direction Rebibbia, exit at Policlinico Station (2nd stop) and walk for 500m to the Department. If you like, you can also walk here.

Fiumicino Airport
Take the fast train Leonardo Express to Termini. It leaves every 30 mins (at :07 and :37) starting from 6:37 until 23:37. The ticket costs 14.00 Euro one way.

Ciampino Airport
There are two bus services to Termini: Terravision and SITBus. Tickets cost 8 Eur one way and Eur 12.50 return (there are cheaper options if you buy them on the web). The bus leaves in connection with incoming flights and the ticket boot is in front of the Arrival gate. Depending on traffic, it might take between 30 and 50 mins.
You can also take a taxi. During the day the cost should be around 35-45 Euro, depending on traffic. Please only use official white taxis.