Steven Stellman’s favorite structure is:

guanylyl-3′,5′-cytidine (GpC)

GPC 02

Source: Stellman et al., Biopolymers 1973;12:2731-50

Why?

It's the only crystal structure that I ever helped to solve. I was a post-doc with Robert Langridge, who had done his doctorate with Watson & Crick's co-Nobelist Maurice Wilkins. Bob set up the first computer graphic lab at Princeton, and I worked with a team that used graphical methods instead of wire models to generate trial structures of dinucleoside phosphates that were fragments of RNA. Ours was one of the early success stories. Geometrical structures, of course, were coded line by line in those days. Our innovation was applying minimization methods with chemical constraints to the initial guess to get a decent structure prediction. You then put in the trial coordinates, ran a fourier transform, and calcuated an R-factor against the actual X-ray data. I still recall the late-night thrill of inspecting the output and "knowing" we had the right answer. But life goes on. I have been an epidemiologist for the past 40 years and haven't had much call to do crystallography since then.—Steven Stellman

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