Contact: Alexander Shtifman
Phone: 617-713-8989

If you see a car with a bumper sticker reading "My molecule won Molecule of the Month from the Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics," it's probably being driven by IDI Senior Investigator Tomas Kirchhuasen, Ph.D.

Indeed, the clathrin molecule made famous by Kirchhausen and colleagues several years ago is now the featured attraction on the Protein Data Base maintained by the Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics:

Kirchhausen's research team was the first to determine clathrin's structure at atomic resolution, using X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy. Clathrin, which forms into an elaborate structure, or coat, plays a key role as part of the cell's complex machinery for bringing information inside the cell. Understanding these processes is essential for learning how pathogens travel into cells and, potentially, for developing therapies that could inhibit such dangerous passages.

The Kirchhausen lab has published extensively on the clathrin molecule, the most recent being a January 2007 paper in Journal of Molecular Biology entitled "Cryo-electron tomography of clathrin-coated vesicles: structural implications for coat assembly".

The Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics is a federally funded, non-profit consortium dedicated to improving our understanding of the function of biological systems through the study of the 3-D structure of biological macromolecules.

Kirchhausen's movies depicting the behavior of clathrin can be accessed from his website at