From crystallography to life Academic Article uri icon


  • 2014 is the International Year of Crystallography, an extremely broad field which has had enormous impact in biology and materials science. Both experimental facilities and methods for interpreting the data have become increasingly sophisticated during the past century, and many highly complex systems have now been characterized, including large proteins and other biological macromolecules. A very few representative examples are mentioned here, including crystallographic studies of proteins that regulate programmed cell death (apoptosis), and structure determinations of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), respectively the subjects of the 2014 Aminoff Prize and the 2012 Nobel Prize in chemistry. Normal apoptosis is essential for human embryonic development, prevention of cancer, and other processes within multicellular organisms. GPCRs are the targets of about half of all modern medicinal drugs, since they are responsible for the majority of cellular responses to hormones and neurotransmitters, as well as the senses of sight, taste, and smell. In materials, the behavior of electrons (both ordinary and exotic) is largely determined by the arrangement of the atoms. As examples, we mention carbon-based materials (diamond, buckyballs, nanotubes, and graphene) and high-temperature superconductors (cuprate and iron-based). © 2014 The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

altmetric score

  • 1.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Allen, R. E.

citation count

  • 2

publication date

  • June 2014