Science Highlights

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Crystal-on-crystal chips for in situ serial diffraction at room temperature

June 2018

Recent developments in serial crystallography at X-ray free electron lasers (XFELs) and synchrotrons have been driven by two scientific goals in structural biology – first, static structure determination from nano or microcrystals of membrane proteins and large complexes that are difficult for conventional cryocrystallography, and second, direct observations of transient structural species in biochemical reactions at near atomic resolution.

Pink-beam serial crystallography

November 2, 2017

Serial X-ray crystallography allows macromolecular structure determination at both X-ray free electron lasers (XFELs) and, more recently, synchrotron sources. The time resolution for serial synchrotron crystallography experiments has been limited to millisecond timescales with monochromatic beams. The polychromatic, “pink”, beam provides a more than two orders of magnitude increased photon flux and hence allows accessing much shorter timescales in diffraction experiments at synchrotron sources.

Combining ns temperature-jump pump with X-ray pulse probe: study of structural dynamics in insulin

September 22, 2017

Biological functions frequently require protein–protein interactions that involve secondary and tertiary structural perturbation. Here we study protein–protein dissociation and reassociation dynamics in insulin, a model system for protein oligomerization. Insulin dimer dissociation into monomers was induced by a nanosecond temperature-jump (T-jump) of ∼8 °C in aqueous solution, and the resulting protein and solvent dynamics were tracked by time-resolved X-ray solution scattering (TRXSS) on time scales of 10 ns to 100 ms.

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New Technique Shocks Proteins Into Action

December 12, 2016

For a protein to carry out its job—whether it be replicating DNA, metabolizing fuel, transporting biomolecules, or sending cell signals—its amino acids have to move in certain ways. The patterns of these internal motions aren’t always well understood because the tools available to study them are limited.

A new technique, electric field-stimulated X-ray crystallography (EF-X), combines electric pulses with time-resolved X-ray crystallography to provide more comprehensive views of the ways proteins work. Electrical charges and dipoles are present in all proteins, and external electric fields can exert forces on them, causing atoms to move.

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