Hunter, W. N.; Weiss, M.S.: Macromolecular crystallography and what it can contribute to antiparasite drug discovery. Acta Crystallographica Section F - Structural Biology and Crystallization Communications 71 (2015), p. 483-484
Open Access Version

This issue of Acta Crystallographica Section F is dedicated towards structural investigations on proteins associated with molecular parasitology, specifically research linked to protozoan pathogens. It is in line with the previous special sections or issues contributed by the RIKEN-UK structural genomics consortium (December 2009), the Joint Center for Structural Genomics in October 2010 (Weiss & Einspahr, 2010[Weiss, M. S. & Einspahr, H. (2010). Acta Cryst. F66, 1406.]) and the Seattle Structural Genomics Center for Infectious Diseases in September 2011 (Weiss & Einspahr, 2011[Weiss, M. S. & Einspahr, H. (2011). Acta Cryst. F67, 1159.]). In contrast to the previous issues however, it is thematically much more focused on protozoan pathogens. Interest in these primitive eukaryotic organisms is often to exploit them as model systems and many significant advances have resulted from such research. As examples there are the fundamentally important discoveries relating to RNA editing, antigenic variation and the occurrence of glycosylphosphatidylinositol tags that anchor proteins on the cell surface, all accrued from research with the African trypanosome. However, a major impetus to study protists is the drastic toll they take on human life. The World Health Organization provide documentation and sobering statistics on the diseases and their impact on human health. For example is their recently updated information sheet on Leishmaniasis. Researchers have sought to understand the processes that allow pathogens to exist, to invade a host, to evade the immune response, and to cause debilitating and often fatal diseases. Extending from such investigations and alongside drug discovery efforts enter structural biology, in particular crystallography and the high quality chemical information it can provide.