Research Division of Molecular Structural Biology

The Division of Molecular Structural Biology tackles medical questions using a combination of high-resolution techniques in structural biology, biophysical methods and biochemistry to understand the details of functional enzymes or regulatory RNAs.

Research interests

Structural enzymology of the biosynthesis of polyketide antibiotics: Anthracyclines are secondary metabolites of Streptomyces, and members of this class of polyketide antibiotics belong to the most-used chemotherapeutic agents in the combat against cancer. The research program aims at the elucidation of the structural enzymology of anthracycline biosynthesis. Target selection is focused on enzymes not related in sequence to proteins of known structure, and/or novel enzymatic mechanisms.

Structural biology of bacterial pathogens: This research project aims at the structural and functional characterization of proteins and protein complexes from major pathogens, in particular Gram-negative bacteria and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. One of the objectives of this program is to provide sufficient structural and mechanistic insights to facilitate the design of strong binding inhibitors, which may be developed into novel drugs.

Another focus area of the division is to understand how RNAs change structures in order to perform their function. Until recently, only snapshots of molecules could be observed, hiding their modus operandi. We employ Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), and other biophysical techniques, to investigate the molecular mechanism of regulatory function of RNAs. When the function of these molecular machines becomes apparent, it also provides a variety of unique new drug targets. We develop methods in NMR and RNA biochemistry to address these questions. Current projects include viral, bacterial and eukaryotic regulatory RNAs, e.g. microRNAs, ribosomal RNAs or RNA from Hepatitis B virus (HBV).

Research groups

Katja Petzold group
Revealing the underlying motion of regulatory RNA to explain their function using NMR and biophysics.

Bernhard Lohkamp group
Method development for model building in structural biology, and structural and functional characterization of protein-protein complexes involved in nerve cell development.


Katja Petzold

Acting Head of Division

Visiting address

Division of Molecular Structural Biology
Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics
Karolinska Institutet
Biomedicum, 9B, 9D, floor 9
Solnavägen 9
171 65 Solna

Sara Lidman