Publication on IUCrJ!

November 10, 2020

We published one manuscript "Harnessing the power of an X-ray laser for serial crystallography of membrane proteins crystallized in lipidic cubic phase" on IUCrJ, please check the publication link for more details.

Publication on Trends in Pharmacological Sciences!

September 16, 2020

We published one manuscript "Serial Crystallography for Structure-Based Drug Discovery" on Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, please check the publication link for more details.

Publication on Molecular Cell!

August 19, 2020

We published one manuscript "Structural Basis of the Activation of Heterotrimeric Gs-Protein by Isoproterenol-Bound β1-Adrenergic Receptor" on Molecular Cell, please check the publication link for more details.

Two publications on Structure!

July 30, 2020

We published two manuscripts "Structure Determination from Lipidic Cubic Phase Embedded Microcrystals by MicroED" and "XFEL and NMR Structures of Francisella Lipoprotein Reveal Conformational Space of Drug Target against Tularemia" on Structure, please check the publication link for more details.

Our research is highlighted by Advanced Photon Source! 

January 21, 2020



Lan Zhu graduated with Ph.D. degree and Dr. Eugene Chun will join Synthorx! 

January 20, 2020

Congratulations, Dr. Zhu and Dr. Chun!

Dr. Liu is named Highly Cited Researchers 2019! 

December 03, 2019

Congratulations, Dr. Liu!


One publications on IUCrJ!

Nov 18, 2019

We published one manuscript on IUCrJ, please check the publication link for more details.

Two publications on Science Advances!

Oct 21, 2019

We published two manuscripts on Science Advances, please check the publication link for more details.

 Two publications on Nature!

April 24, 2019

We published two side by side manuscripts on Nature, "Structural basis of ligand recognition at the human MT1 melatonin receptor." and "XFEL structures of the human MT2 melatonin receptor reveal the basis of subtype selectivity".

New Publication on IUCrJ!

April 12, 2018

We published an article on IUCrJ, "High-viscosity injector-based pink-beam serial crystallography of microcrystals at a synchrotron radiation source."

Two Publications on Nature Chemical Biology and Cancer Cell Int.! 

January 10, 2019

Check our publication link for more details.


Dr. Liu is named Highly Cited Researchers 2018! 

December 03, 2018

Congratulations, Dr. Liu!

New Publication on IUCrJ!

August 08, 2018

We published an article on IUCrJ, "Solving protein structure from sparse serial microcrystal diffraction data at a storage-ring synchrotron source."


Dr. Liu presented on G-Protein Signaling Workshop!

18 June 2018

G-Protein Signalling Workshop

We moved into a new building!

18 May, 2018

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Dr. Liu hosted "New Applications in SFX" Session at BioXFEL 5th International Conference!

14 February 2018

Liang Jing and Lan Zhu Became BioXFEL Scholar!

12 January 2018

Congratulations to Liang and Lan! 

Dr. Liu is named as 2017 Highly Cited Researcher!

15 November 2017

Congratulations to Dr. Liu! 

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New Publication on Oncotarget!

October 12, 2017

We published an article on Oncotarget, "FBXW8-dependent degradation of MRFAP1 in anaphase controls mitotic cell death."


NIH R01 Grant Funded!

September 30, 2017

Dr. Nannenga and our lab received joint R01 grant from NIGMS. 


New Publication on PNAS!

July 17, 2017

We published an article on PNAS, "Structural insights into the extracellular recognition of the human serotonin 2B receptor by an antibody."

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New Publication on IUCrJ!

May 24, 2017

We published an article on IUCrJ, "Serial millisecond crystallography of membrane and soluble protein microcrystals using synchrotron radiation."

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New Publication on Nature!

May 17, 2017

We published an article on Nature, "Structure of the full-length glucagon class B G-protein-coupled receptor."

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New Publication on Nature!

April 06, 2017

We published an article on Nature, "Structural basis for selectivity and diversity in angiotensin II receptors."

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NIH R21 Grant Funded!

March 13, 2017

Our lab received R21 grant from NIDA. 



FLINN Foundation Award!

January 16, 2017

Dr. Liu received an award from Flinn foundation. 

Congratulations to Dr. Liu!

Mayo Alliance Program Kicks Off!

01 December 2016

Dr. Liu will lead two proposals and co-lead two proposals funded by Mayo Clinic. 

Congratulations to Dr. Liu!

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New Publication on Trends in Pharmacological Sciences!

23 November 2016

We published an article in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, "Successful Strategies to Determine High-Resolution Structures of GPCRs."

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Dr. Liu Received Lilly Research Award!

01 November 2016

Congratulations to Dr. Liu! 

New Publication on Science Advances!

23 September 2016

We published an article in Science Advances, "Native phasing of x-ray free-electron laser data for a G protein–coupled receptor."

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New Publication on JoVE!

20 September 2016

We published an article in Journal of Visualized Experiments, "Preparation and Delivery of Protein Microcrystals in Lipidic Cubic Phase for Serial Femtosecond Crystallography."

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Drug Discovery & Development Seminar!

06 September 2016

Dr. Liu presented our latest research at University of Arizona.

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New Publication on Scientific Data!

03 August 2016

We published an article in Scientific Data (Nature Research Journal), "Serial femtosecond crystallography datasets from G protein-coupled receptors."

New Book Chapter Publication!

29 July 2016

We have contributed a chapter in the new book, "The Next Generation in Membrane Protein Structure Determination," now available:

Dr. Liu Awarded HWI BioXFEL Award!

01 July 2016

Congratulations to Dr. Liu! This award will focus on serial femtosecond crystallography of MPs in LCP (LCP-SFX) technology developments.

G-Protein Signaling Workshop!

14 June 2016

The 2016 G-Protein Signaling Workshop took place on June 14th, 2016 at the Rockefeller University. Dr. Liu presented our latest research progress.

G-Protein Signalling Workshop

BioXFEL Lecture Series!

04 May 2016

Every month a BioXFEL investigator or collaborator presents their work or something closely related to their research via a virtual meeting. These presentations are recorded and posted to our website. This month ASU assistant professor Wei Liu will discuss his recent work with Femtosecond crystallography of membrane proteins in LCP. Dr. Liu focuses on understanding receptor-mediated biological processes involved in cancer development.

Steven Cosgrove Awarded BioXFEL Summer Research Internship!

28 April 2016

Congratulations to Steven Cosgrove, a senior at Arizona State University, for receiving this prestigious award! The BioXFEL Summer Research Internship is awarded to highly qualified students with backgrounds in physics, chemistry, biochemistry, mathematics, or computer science. In addition to a $5000 stipend, the award provides students with the exciting opportunity to learn science with hands-on laboratory training from researchers in actual XFEL laboratories. This summer, Steven will carry out research in the Liu Laboratory at ASU, where he will study the structure and function of  G Protein-Coupled Receptors, one of the most important targets of modern day pharmaceuticals.

X-ray laser diffraction for structure determination of the rhodopsin-arrestin complex

12 April 2016

Serial femtosecond X-ray crystallography (SFX) using an X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) is a recent advancement in structural biology for solving crystal structures of challenging membrane proteins, including G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), which often only produce microcrystals. An XFEL delivers highly intense X-ray pulses of femtosecond duration short enough to enable the collection of single diffraction images before significant radiation damage to crystals sets in. Here we report the deposition of the XFEL data and provide further details on crystallization, XFEL data collection and analysis, structure determination, and the validation of the structural model. The rhodopsin-arrestin crystal structure solved with SFX represents the first near-atomic resolution structure of a GPCR-arrestin complex, provides structural insights into understanding of arrestin-mediated GPCR signaling, and demonstrates the great potential of this SFX-XFEL technology for accelerating crystal structure determination of challenging proteins and protein complexes.

Biodesign’s FUSION 2016 Scientific Retreat!

Speakers: Wei Liu

Structure-Based Drug Discovery for G Protein-Coupled Receptors

Biodesign’s Center for Applied Structural Discovery


Wed, 2016-02-24
Despite recent technological advances in heterologous expression, stabilization and crystallization of membrane proteins (MPs), their structural studies remain difficult and require new transformative approaches. During the past a few years, crystallization in lipidic cubic phase (LCP) has started gaining a widespread acceptance, owing to the spectacular success in high-resolution structure determination of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and to the introduction of commercial instrumentation, tools and protocols. The recent appearance of X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) has enabled structure determination from substantially smaller crystals than previously possible with minimal effects of radiation damage, offering new exciting opportunities in structural biology. The unique properties of LCP material have been exploited to develop special protocols and devices that have established a new method of serial femtosecond crystallography of MPs in LCP (LCP-SFX). In this method, microcrystals are generated in LCP and streamed continuously inside the same media across the intersection with a pulsed XFEL beam at a flow rate that can be adjusted to minimize sample consumption. Pioneering studies that yielded the first room temperature GPCR structures, using a few hundred micrograms of purified protein, validate the LCP-SFX approach and make it attractive for structure determination of difficult-to-crystallize MPs and their complexes with interacting partners. Together with the potential of femtosecond data acquisition to interrogate unstable intermediate functional states of MPs, LCP-SFX holds promise to advance our understanding of this biomedically important class of proteins...More

Scientists blueprint tiny cellular ‘nanomachine’ whose evolution is an extraordinary feat of nature

December 17, 2015

2015 – Scientists have drawn up molecular blueprints of a tiny cellular ‘nanomachine’, whose evolution is an extraordinary feat of nature, by using one of the brightest X-ray sources on Earth. The scientists produced the structural map of this nanomachine – diacylglycerol kinase – by using a “hit and run” crystallography technique. In doing so, they have been able to understand how the tiny enzyme performs critical cellular duties – answering questions that have been on the table for over 50 years about this ‘paradigmatic protein’. Kinases are key players in metabolism, cell signalling, protein regulation, cellular transport, secretory processes, and many other cellular pathways that allow us to function healthily. They coordinate the transfer of energy from certain molecules to specific substrates, affecting their activity, reactivity, and ability to bind other molecules...More

Scientists determine structure of important drug target using groundbreaking approach

July 23, 2015

Using the brightest X-ray laser in the world, scientists have determined the structure of a molecular complex that is responsible for our sense of sight. Researchers at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute Center for Applied Structural Discovery (CASD) collaborated with an international team of researchers from 19 institutions working to develop a roadmap for more selectively targeting pathways for drug treatment. The innovative approach may lead to more effective therapies with fewer side effects, particularly for diseases such as cancer, heart disease and neurodegenerative disorders. The study, “Crystal Structure of Rhodopsin Bound to Arrestin Determined by Femtosecond X-ray Laser,” was published online in the journal Nature. ...More



Key blood pressure drug seen in startling new detail

April 23, 2015

A new Arizona State University research study has revealed the fine details of how an experimental drug works to regulate blood pressure, paving the way to the development of better drugs. The ASU team’s interdisciplinary work, led by Petra Fromme, of the Biodesign Institute, may one day help scientists better control blood pressure irregularities with a new class of drugs that could limit harmful side effects.  More

BioXFEL Journal Article Reaches Number One in Nature

A recent BioXFEL co-authored article published in Nature has reached the number one slot for most read articles.  Below you will find the abstract for "Crystal structure of rhodopsin bound to arrestin by femtosecond X-ray laser".  Full article can be accessed here.

G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) signal primarily through G proteins or arrestins. Arrestin binding to GPCRs blocks G protein interaction and redirects signalling to numerous G-protein-independent pathways. Here we report the crystal structure of a constitutively active form of human rhodopsin bound to a pre-activated form of the mouse visual arrestin, determined by serial femtosecond X-ray laser crystallography. Together with extensive biochemical and mutagenesis data, the structure reveals an overall architecture of the rhodopsin–arrestin assembly in which rhodopsin uses distinct structural ..More




 New Faculty Members...

Wei Liu  Assistant Professor

In 2002, Wei received his B.Sc. from the Department of Biological Pharmacology from Wuhan University in China. Then he joined Dr. Martin Caffrey’s laboratory at Ohio State University. It is there that Wei not only became a super Buckeye fan (he is still basking in the glory of Buckeye National Championship win on Jan. 12, 2015), but also started his daily interactions with lipids, a class of small yet essential molecules in cellular membranes and controlling the conformation as well as biological behavior of membrane proteins. Following five years of graduate studies at Ohio State University, Wei moved on to Dr. Raymond Steven’s and Dr. Vadim Cherezov’s laboratory at the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI). At TSRI, Wei dedicated himself to continuous innovations on lipid cubic phase (LCP) technology, and successfully applied LCP technology to resolving the crystal structures of several important human G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR), including the structure of the human A2A adenosine receptor at 1.8 angstrom resolution, the best resolution that has been achieved for any human membrane proteins by far. He also achieved a recent breakthrough in combining LCP with x-ray free-electron laser technology to achieve high-resolution structures of human serotonin receptors from sub-10-micrometer microcrystals. More