Randy Read is helping to tackle challenges in protein crystallography by developing software that allows researchers to solve seemingly unsolvable protein structures. Randy also applies his own software to determine the structures, and understand the mechanisms, of a family of proteins known as serpins, which are implicated in a number of human diseases.
Researchers can use X-rays to analyse crystals of proteins with interesting biological functions. However, the data they collect is often missing information, which prevents them from deciphering the protein’s structure. Randy’s Phaser software applies maximum-likelihood based algorithms to increase the power of molecular replacement — a technique that uses existing similar structures to provide the missing information.
Randy has a longstanding interest in serpins, proteins that dramatically change shape when cleaved by enzymes called proteases. They can subsequently deliver hormones to targets in the body. His work to solve the structure of angiotensinogen, a serpin released from the liver, has important consequences for the treatment of high blood pressure and preeclampsia.
Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow, Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, University of Cambridge Chair, X-Ray Validation Task Force, Worldwide Protein Data Bank
Interest and expertise
Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
Biochemistry and molecular biology, Biophysics and structural biology
Protein crystallography, Maximum likelihood, Molecular replacement