2024 research activities

Head Prof. Deborah Fass

Picture of Prof. Deborah Fass

Prof. Deborah Fass

Office +972-8-934-3214


The functions of biological systems emerge from the structures of macromolecules, their conformational dynamics, and their higher order assembly. Determination of biomolecular structures and an understanding of their conformational changes and assembly properties provide great insights into biological mechanisms. Much of the research in structural biology at the Weizmann Institute is carried out in the Faculty of Chemistry, using a diverse set of cutting-edge research tools and methods. Investigators in the Structural Biology Department rely on the primary techniques for experimental structure determination, namely X-ray crystallography, NMR, and electron microscopy, but they also employ a variety of other specialized and emerging spectroscopic methods combined with creative molecular engineering to explore macromolecular structures, energetics, and dynamics. Experimental strategies are complemented by computational and theoretical approaches. Among the specific subjects of research in the department are ribosomes, protein chaperones, viruses, extracellular matrices, and biominerals. Processes being investigated include protein aggregation in cells, conformational dynamics of enzymes, formation of skeletal tissues, cell penetration by viruses, DNA recognition by proteins, and protein folding. Efforts are also directed towards the design of potential drugs. The wide variety of research activities in the department are based on a shared appreciation for the physical and chemical foundations of biological activities.

ScientistsShow details

  • Picture of Prof. Lia Addadi

    Prof. Lia Addadi

    Antibodies that recognize crystal surfaces and 2-dimensional organized patterns.
    antibody recognition of chiral crystal surfaces
    structure of cholesterol/ceramide monolayer mixtures. Molecular organization of lipid rafts
    Pathological crystallizations. Gout
    antibody recognition of amiloid structures
    Mechanisms of crystal nucleation and modulation of crystal growth and properties in biomineralization (bone, mollusk shells, echinoderms).
    Collaboration with:  S. Weiner
    Mechanism of cell adhesion using crystal substrates.
    Collaboration with:  B. Geiger

  • Picture of Prof. Jacob Anglister

    Prof. Jacob Anglister

    The structure of the membrane proximal extra-cellular region of HIV-1 gp41 and its role in viral fusion
    Collaboration with:  F. Naider
    The structure of the V3 loop of the HIV-1 envelope protein gp120 and its interactions with chemokines receptors
    Collaboration with:  F. Naider
    NMR structure of alpha Interferon complex with its receptor
    Collaboration with:  J. Piehler
    The interactions of scorpion toxins with sodium channels and the structures of the channels extra-cellular loops
    Collaboration with:  M. Gurevitz, D. Gordon

  • Picture of Prof. Ron Diskin

    Prof. Ron Diskin

    Viral glycoproteins - Structure, Function, & Immunogenicity
    Single-particle cryo-EM
    X-ray crystallography
    Novel drug targets against Mycobacterium tuberculosis

  • Picture of Prof. Deborah Fass

    Prof. Deborah Fass

    disulfide bond formation for oxidative protein folding and assembly
    extracellular matrix structure and assembly
    enzyme mechanism, regulation, and inhibition

  • Picture of Prof. Amnon Horovitz

    Prof. Amnon Horovitz

    Linear free energy relationships (LFER) analysis of allosteric transitions in proteins.
    Analysis of correlated mutations in proteins
    Collaboration with:  Ron Unger (Bar Ilan University)
    Allostery in the structure and function of GroEL and CCT chaperonins.
    Collaboration with:  Keith Willison (Imperial College, London); Michal Sharon;
    Chaperonin-mediated protein folding.
    Collaboration with:  Gilad Haran
    Analysis of protein substrate specificity of chaperonins

  • Picture of Prof. Koby Levy

    Prof. Koby Levy

    Dynamics, entropy and diffusion in biomoelcular systems
    The mechanisms of protein-DNA recognition: understanding the driving forces for fast assembly

  • Picture of Prof. Zippora Shakked

    Prof. Zippora Shakked

    Crystal structure and solution studies of DNA oligomers.
    Collaboration with:  Donald Crothers (Yale University)
    DNA regulatory elements
    DNA bending by adenine-thymine tracts
    Structural and biochemical studies of proteins involved in transcriptional regulation.
    The tumor-suppressor protein p53 and its interaction with DNA and the basal transcription machinery
    The leukemia-related RUNX1(AML1) transcription regulator

  • Picture of Dr. Moran Shalev-Benami

    Dr. Moran Shalev-Benami

    Cellular communication in the CNS
    Collaboration with:  Peter McCormick; Ofer Yizhar
    Structural Biology of membrane proteins
    Collaboration with:  Schraga Schwartz;

  • Picture of Prof. Joel Sussman

    Prof. Joel Sussman

    3D Structure Funciton Studies or proteins related to Autism
    Collaboration with:  Israel Silman
    3D Structure Fucntions studies of Paraoxonase
    Collaboration with:  Dan Tawfik & Israel Silman
    Application of ultra rapid X-ray diffraction methods to study the enzymatic mechanism of AChE in real time.
    Collaboration with:  Israel Silman
    Structure based drug design studies on AChE and beta-secretase, including studies of complexes with transition state analogs; potential drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease; and snake neurotoxins.
    Collaboration with:  Israel Silman
    X-ray structural analysis and molecular biology studies on proteins from the nervous system, including acetylcholinesterase (AChE), human, torpedo, drosophila, and krait; butyrylcholinesterase; neural cell adhesion proteins with sequence similarity to ACh
    Collaboration with:  Israel Silman
    3D Structure Funciton of proteins related to Gaucher Disease
    Collaboration with:  Tony Futerman & Israel Silman
    Visualization of 3D Protein Structures via new web based tool Proteopedia
    Collaboration with:  Jaime Prilusky & Israel Silman

  • Picture of Prof. Stephen Weiner

    Prof. Stephen Weiner

    Structure-function relations in vertebrate mineralized tissues
    Collaboration with:  Ron Shahar, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    Archaeological science: revealing the microscopic archaeological record
    Collaboration with:  Elisabetta Boaretto,
    Biomineralization: mechanisms of mineral formation.
    Collaboration with:  L. Addadi, Leeor Kronick, Dan Oron
    Uptake, transport and deposition of ions. With Lia Addadi Bone formation. With Lia Addadi Manipulation of light with organic crystals in biology. With Dan Oron and Leeor Kronik

  • Picture of Prof. Ada Yonath

    Prof. Ada Yonath

    Antibiotics targeting ribosomes
    Protein biosynthesis
    Ribosomal mechanisms
    Origin of life
    Next generation antibiotics
    Human genetic diseases – structural and molecular bases