The proposed “Structural biology” program uses the structural information obtained from crystal structures of macromolecules and their complexes as the starting point to gain insight into molecular events at the atomic level.

3-dimensional atomic structures are used to link the information from the sequences of biological polymers with the role of individual residues in chemical mechanisms underlying physiological processes and their control.  When exploring the structure of yet uncharacterized sequences with unassigned and unrecognized sequential motifs and patterns their discovery can expose functional roles of proteins or their domains.  The main biological theme of the proposed research is the process of adaptive immunity, where organism learns to discriminate between self and non-self proteins as a specific defense against invading microorganisms. In this process endosomal proteases and other hydrolytic enzymes generate candidates for antigenic presentation. Their selection occurs at two stages: by binding to the MHC class II molecules and their selection during recognition by the T-cells. As these physiological and pathological mechanisms are complex biological phenomena, we are integrating structural investigations with genomics, proteomics and other high throughput approaches often collaborating with groups in the region and around the world.

The “Structural biology” program is a continuation of about a decade of research. Recently we established a platform for high-throughput, parallelized, partially automated approaches systems for protein expression, purification, crystallization and structure determination. This enables us to work simultaneously with groups of proteins, performing functional studies of experimental models with increasing complexity.

We will continue to study endosomal proteins, in particular hydrolytic enzymes such as proteases, their targets from the surface of bacterial pathogens, MHC class II molecules, and the selection process of antigen presentation.



prof. Boris Turk, Ph. D.

Phone: +386 1 477 3772
e-mail: boris.turk[at]

Barbara Vrtańćnik

Phone: +386 1 477 3215
Fax: +386 1 477 39 84
e-mail: barbara.vrtacnik[at]