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Département de biologie
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UE SupraMolecular Machines and Therapeutic Targets

Responsables : Patrice Gouet et Gilles Rautureau

6 crédits ECTS, 36h de cours, 6h de TD





Genomic and post-genomic high throughput approaches provide tremendous amount of data on the genomes of many organisms. Biologists are now facing the major challenge of understanding the data at the molecular level , that is to say, to determine the structure and biochemical mechanisms of action of different actors: proteins, nucleic acids , cofactors, and the dynamic supramolecular complexes that together they compose. Meeting this challenge is key for the fine understanding of organisms, and for the rational development of therapeutic, diagnostic and industrial resources. To this end, the tools and approaches of structural biology are essential and unavoidable. They continually acquire more power and ease of use, and the results they provide are present in an ever increasing proportion of publications.

This course, built on the international excellence of structural biology in Rhone-Alpes, presents the most modern techniques of structural biology, the knowledge of the power and limits of which is now essential for any biologist eager to deeply understand the mechanisms of life. 



Content may vary according to years

  • Methods in structural biology illustrated by a case study: structural insights into the Gram-negative bacteria secretion systems
  • Structural insight of Multidrug resistance in cancer (X-ray crystallography) 
  • Cryo-electron microscopy: a relevant tool to analyze the ultrastructure of filamentous proteins: septins and ESCRTs
  • Seeing the Invisible: How Can NMR Contribute to Protein Science?
  • Solid-state and solution NMR studies on viral assemblies: application to the hepatitis B virus capsid and SARS-CoV-2 proteins
  • Structural snapshots of bacterial cell wall synthesis and regulation complexes (X-ray crystallography) 
  • Diversity and Evolution of Giant Viruses
  • Computational approaches in drug discovery: moving toward precision medicine
  • Super resolution microscopy: a revolution in biological imaging
  • Molecular machines in Cancer and Inflammation 
  • The SARS-CoV RNA polymerase complex: a machine with outstanding structural and functional features
  • Retroviral Integration – no loose ends

The courses are complemented with practicals and laboratory visits (CRMN ; IBCP)



Every day, 2 speakers present their experience and scientific results of state-of the-art structural approaches to demonstrate how these methods deliver key insights to dissect the function of molecular machines at the molecular level. All lectures are designed for students in biology. Lectures start by a broad introduction of methods in structural biology, and raise up to the most recent research developments. A particular attention is given to the synergy between the presentations so that to enrich the discussion afterwards. Students have the opportunity to interact freely with the specialists of the field.



Note: Some of the objectives will be worked on more deeply depending on the exact list of topics covered this year

  • Introduction to current methods in structural biology.
  • Many examples of extraordinary molecular machines.
  • Learn how to write a synthesis based on different presentation.
  • Be critical on the interpretation of the scientific data to create models.
  • Ask questions in English, interact in a positive manner with speakers and fellow students
  • Start to build up a network, since half the audience do not come from ENS de Lyon, and some from other countries (this may not apply in corona times).





  • Contrôle continu 40% : participation, asking questions

  • Contrôle terminal 60% : written exam