Masterclass: Macromolecular Structures in Cancer Research

How can different biophysical techniques be used to determine the structure of biological macromolecules on atomic resolution and analyse and quantify their interactions?

By Anastassis Perrakis and Titia Sixma, NKI

Date: 25 November, 2019

Structural biology approaches play a major role in characterising and manipulating the Chemistry of Life: understanding the function of macromolecular assemblies, deciphering their mechanism, evaluating them as drug targets, and enabling the actual process of drug discovery in cancer research. We will present how different biophysical techniques can be used to determine the structure of biological macromolecules on atomic resolution, analyse and quantify their interactions, and use structures to develop new research hypotheses, answer specific research questions, or contribute to lead development in the process of drug discovery.


The lectures given in this masterclass will cover an overview of the possibilities than can be offered to research in X-ray crystallography, single particle electron microscopy, biophysical methods for performing and analysing experiment for quantitating macromolecular interactions, methods for protein expression and characterisation, as well as an overview of the possibilities offered by the Instruct and iNEXT consortia all over Europe.

10.30: Arrivals

11:00- 15:00: Lectures (including lunch)

15:00 to 16:45: Lab tours: Protein Production lab, Biophysics lab, Crystallisation lab, Electron Microscope

For the one who are interested, we would like to invite you to stick along for the:

17:00 - 17:45: EM facility opening celebration

17:45 - 19:30: Drinks and lab tour EM facilities

Lectures given by:

Topics covered and learning objectives:

  • Methods for protein expression and characterisation: Expression systems, purification process, basic experiments (by Patrick Celie)
  • X-ray crystallography: Overview of process, timeline, possibilities for ligands based and fragment based lead discovery (by Anastassis Perrakis)
  • Single particle electron microscopy: Overview of process, timeline, examples (by Titia Sixma)
  • Biophysical methods for quantitating macromolecular interactions: Overview of most popular methods, what they are and what they can be used for (by Anastassis Perrakis)
  • Mathematical analysis of biophysical experiments: Basic of equilibrium and transient analysis, examples (by Alexander Fish)
  • Instruct and iNEXT consortia: what could the Instruct consortium offer to Oncode researchers (by Hans Wienk)

Brief description of the institution/lab/lecturer(s)

The Netherlands Cancer Institute is an integrated research laboratory and hospital, with research themes spanning from basic to clinical research. The Division of Biochemistry houses the laboratories of Prof. Titia Sixma, Prof. A. Perrakis and the Protein Facility. The Division participates to the Instruct-NL and Instruct European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) and is a member of the iNEXT Infrastructure project, that offer to scientists with little or no prior experience in structural biology various possibilities to expand their research to this area. The facilities for Biophysics, Protein Expression and Crystallisation, and for cryo-Electron Microscopy (which will be inaugurated after the end of the Masterclass) are part of our Division.


  • Date: Monday, November 25, 2019
  • Time: 11.00-16.45hrs
  • Location: NKI, Z1 room
  • Target audience: the entire CGC and Oncode community. All lectures will be kept to the beginner level.


Please register for the event here.
Registration is limited so please register as soon as possible

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