Physical methods for structure, dynamics and binding in immunological research

Trends Immunol. 2004 Dec;25(12):700-7. doi: 10.1016/


We present four experimental physical methods--X-ray and neutron diffraction, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and calorimetry--and two computational methods--molecular dynamics simulations and electrostatics calculations--which are general and widely applicable in the study of protein structure, dynamics and binding. These methods are useful tools for biologists that lead to structure-function, dynamics-function and binding-function correlations, in efforts to understand biomolecular function. Standard and emerging technologies within these methods are discussed and representative examples of applications in immunology are presented, from antigen-antibody, complement and MHC-T-cell receptor research. The examples demonstrate the power of the reviewed methods in immunological studies at the molecular level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Calorimetry / methods
  • Computer Simulation
  • Crystallography, X-Ray / methods
  • Immunologic Techniques*
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Models, Molecular
  • Neutron Diffraction / methods
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular / methods
  • Proteins / chemistry
  • Proteins / immunology


  • Proteins