“On the one hand, ABC transporters cause diseases such as cystic fibrosis, while on the other hand they are responsible for the immune system recognising infected cells or cancer cells,” explains Professor Robert Tampe from the Institute for Biochemistry at the Goethe University. The considerable medical, industrial and economic significance of ABC transporters is also based on the fact that they cause bacteria and other pathogens to become resistant to antibiotics. Likewise, they can help cancer cells to defend themselves against cytostatic agents and thus determine whether chemotherapy will succeed.
With the aid of a high-resolution cryo-electron microscope, the group led by Robert Tampé, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of California in San Francisco, succeeded in determining the structure of an asymmetrical ABC transporter complex.
Credit: Robert Tampé