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What’s YOUR favorite crystal??



Thyroxine is the primary thyroid hormone synthesized in the thyroid gland and is critical to healthy survival in mammalian species. Transthyretin is one of three major proteins that transport thyroid hormones in the body. The preparation of large, perfect single crystals of transthyretin made it possible to determine its three-dimensional structure and learn how the hormone is taken up by the protein for transport. The structural data showed how the competitive binding of pharmaceutical agents used in the treatment of non-thyroid diseases altered their efficacy in the treatment of those diseases and often led to thyroid disease where there had been none. Structures of transthyretin mutants found in cases of familial polyneuropathy also led to the design of novel treatments. Structural data are still not available for three other proteins essential to thyroid hormone action, thyroxine-binding globulin, iodothyronine deiodinase, and thyroglobulin. Beautiful single crystals of these three proteins could provide greater insight into the causes and potential treatment of thyroid disorders that effect tens of thousands of people.

V. Cody and J. Luft, Hauptman Woodward Medical Research Inst., USA

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