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MDACC Core for Biomolecular Structure and Function (CBSF)

Overview of Services

The purpose of the Core for Biomolecular Structure and Function (CBSF) is to provide recombinant protein production, protein characterization, binding studies and structural biology (X-ray crystallography) services to MD Anderson Cancer Center and the wider Texas Medical Center.


Protein Production Services

    • Plasmid expression vector cloning
      • suite of E. coli expression vectors available (various affinity tag options)
    • E. coli test expression
      • screening for optimal strain/media combination for soluble protein production
    • Large scale protein purification
      • multiple liter scale production

X-ray Crystallography Services

    • Crystallization screening
      • 960 condition crystallization trial
      • automated imaging of crystallization trial
      • visible and UV imaging for protein crystal detection
    • Crystallization optimization
      • customized screening around 'crystallization hits'
      • crystal growth seeding
    • X-ray diffraction data collection
      • data collection at high intensity synchrotron beamline (Advanced photon source)
    • X-ray structure determination

Protein Characterization Services

    • Differential scanning fluorimetry (DSF)
      • measures protein melting temperature, Tm (thermal stability)
      • compare stability of wild type vs mutant protein
      • buffer screening for protein stabilization
      • compound screening (Tm shift)
    • Size exclusion chromatography with static light scattering (SEC-MALS)
      • chromatography separation of protein species with MW determination by light scattering for each species.
      • autosampler allows multiple sample setup
    • Analytical ultracentrifugation (AUC)
      • direct determination or protein MW in solution
      • Kd for protein self-association or complex formation
      • assess distribution protein oligomeric states
      • compare wild type vs mutant proteins
      • up to 7x samples per experiment run 

Binding Studies Services

    • Isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC)
      • measure binding affinity, stoichiometry, enthalpy, entropy and free energy
      • protein-ligand, protein-peptide, protein-DNA or protein-protein interactions
      • label free technique (no labeling artifacts)
      • autosampler - allows multiple sample setup
    • Biolayer interferometry (Octet)
      • measure binding affinity & on-rate/off-rate for an interaction
      • protein-ligand, protein-peptide, protein-DNA or protein-protein interactions
      • compound screening
      • 96 or 384 well format
    • Surface Plasmon Resonance (SensiQ)
      • measure binding affinity & on-rate/off-rate for an interaction
      • protein-ligand, protein-peptide, protein-DNA or protein-protein interactions
      • compound screening (including fragment compounds)
    • Microscale thermophoresis (MST)
      • measure binding affinity
      • protein-ligand, protein-peptide, Protein-DNA or protein-protein interactions
      • low volume (10 µL sample per concentration point)
      • detects change in MW and/or hydration shell surface of the protein upon ligand binding.
    • Fluorescence anisotropy (FA)
      • measure affinity of complex formation
      • protein-ligand, protein-peptide, Protein-DNA interactions.
      • compound screening
      • 96 or 384 well format



Phil Jones

Head of Drug Discovery, Institute for Applied Cancer Science

CBSF Oversight


Core Staff






Paul Leonard


3SCR3 3439


Todd Link

Assistant Professor

3SCR3 3441


Troy Johnson

Institute Research Scientist

3SCR3 3439


Adrienne Thornburg

Senior Research Assistant

3SCR3 3600


Location and hours of operation

Hours Location

Monday -  Friday  9 AM - 5 PM 

South Campus Research Building 3, 1881 East Road, Houston, TX 77054   


Name Role Phone Email Location
Paul Leonard
CBSF Manager
3SCR3 3439

Price List

Search available services: View: by category alphabetically
Cloning (4)
E. coli test expression (5)
Protein Production (4)
X-ray crystallography (4)
Protein characterization (5)
Binding studies (9)
Instrument training and daily use (5)