Structural biology is the study of the molecular structure and dynamics of biological macromolecules, particularly proteins and nucleic acids, and how alterations in their structures affect their function. Structural biology incorporates the principles of molecular biology, biochemistry and biophysics. Structural biology has experienced several transformative technological advances in recent years. These include: development of extremely bright X-ray sources (microfocus synchrotron beamlines and free electron lasers) and the use of electrons to extend protein crystallography to ever decreasing crystal sizes; and an increase in the resolution attainable by cryo-electron microscopy. Here we discuss the use of these techniques in general terms and highlight their application for biological systems.

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