[APP] Applications of Structural Biology

[APP] Applications of Structural Biology

Protein structure is central to the modern understanding of biology and to biotechnological applications including the design of medicines and vaccines, agrichemicals and enzymes for industrial processes. This module will provide an in-depth introduction to protein structure aspects of virology, membrane ion transport, and structure-based drug design. No similar module is offered at this level anywhere in South Africa.

This module descriptor document also can be downloaded as an MS-Word document.



Lecturers include Val Abratt, Arvind Varsani, David McIntosh and Ed Sturrock.

Main Outcomes

The ability to:

  • interpret the structure-function relationships of ion transport through membranes and the mechanism and ligand binding of the eye's photo receptor rhodopsin.
  • understand the rational basis for the design of cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • describe viral capsid structures
  • understand the structural basis of the immune response
  • design vaccines and anti-viral agents

Main Content

  • the hydrophobic effect and how it leads to deformable membranes in which proteins can function.
  • facilitated transport across membranes and the structure of ion channels
  • active transport against a concentration gradient using rhodopsin and Ca-ATPase as examples
  • the nature of ATP sites in proteins
  • the structure and funstion of angiotensin converting enzyme
  • approaches to rational drug design
  • virus capsid structures
  • viral immunology
  • vaccine design and antiviral agents
  • structure-based drug design and high throughput screening.
Home Department: Clinical Laboratory Sciences (UCT)
Module description (Header): Applications of Structural Biology
Generic module name: Structural Biology
Alpha-numeric code: STB705
Credit Value: 15 Credits
Duration: 6 Weeks
Module Type: P
Level: 8

Prohibited combinations: None
Learning time breakdown (hours):
Contact with lecturer/tutor: 60
Assignments & tasks: 40
Tests & examinations: 5
Practicals: 0
Selfstudy: 35
Total Learning Time 150
Methods of Student Assessment: Students will be assessed on the basis three oral presentations and their write up of an assignment. Moderation will be internal in consultation with members of the teaching team.


Flower, RJ. 2003. "The development of COX2 inhibitors." Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, 2 (3): 179-191.

Hajduk, PJ and J Greer. 2007. "A decade of fragment-based drug design: strategic advances and lessons learned." Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, 6 (3): 211-219.

Kubinyi, H. 1998. "Structure-based design of enzyme inhibitors and receptor ligands." Current Opinion in Drug Discovery and Development, 1 (1): 4-15.

Thiel, KA. 2004. "Structure-aided drug design's next generation." Nature Biotechnology, 22 (5): 513-519.