Interaction of solar protons and galactic cosmic radiation with the atmosphere and other materials produces high-energy secondary neutrons from below 1 to 1000 MeV and higher. Although secondary neutrons may provide an appreciable component of the radiation dose equivalent received by space and high-altitude air travelers, the biological effects remain poorly defined, particularly in vivo in intact organisms. Here we describe the acute response of Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes) embryos to a beam of high-energy spallation neutrons that mimics the energy spectrum of secondary neutrons encountered aboard spacecraft and high-altitude aircraft. To determine RBE, embryos were exposed to 0–0.5 Gy of high-energy neutron radiation or 0–15 Gy of reference γ radiation. The radiation response was measured by imaging apoptotic cells in situ in defined volumes of the embryo, an assay that provides a quantifiable, linear dose response. The slope of the dose response in the developing head, relative to reference γ radiation, indicates an RBE of 24.9 (95% CI 13.6–40.7). A higher RBE of 48.1 (95% CI 30.0–66.4) was obtained based on overall survival. A separate analysis of apoptosis in muscle showed an overall nonlinear response, with the greatest effects at doses of less than 0.3 Gy. Results of this experiment indicate that medaka are a useful model for investigating biological damage associated with high-energy neutron exposure.
From the structures of isolated protein complexes to the molecular dynamics of whole cells, neutron methods can achieve a resolution in complex systems that is inaccessible to other techniques. Biology is fortunate in that it is rich in water and hydrogen, and this allows us to exploit the differential sensitivity of neutrons to this element and its major isotope, deuterium. Furthermore, neutrons exhibit wave properties that allow us to use them in similar ways to light, X-rays and electrons. This review aims to explain the basics of biological neutron science to encourage its greater use in solving difficult problems in the life sciences.
small-angle neutron scattering; reflectivity; deuteration; neutrons; diffraction
The EPOXI Discovery Mission of Opportunity reused the Deep Impact flyby spacecraft to obtain spatially and temporally resolved visible photometric and moderate resolution near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopic observations of Earth. These remote observations provide a rigorous validation of whole-disk Earth model simulations used to better understand remotely detectable extrasolar planet characteristics. We have used these data to upgrade, correct, and validate the NASA Astrobiology Institute's Virtual Planetary Laboratory three-dimensional line-by-line, multiple-scattering spectral Earth model. This comprehensive model now includes specular reflectance from the ocean and explicitly includes atmospheric effects such as Rayleigh scattering, gas absorption, and temperature structure. We have used this model to generate spatially and temporally resolved synthetic spectra and images of Earth for the dates of EPOXI observation. Model parameters were varied to yield an optimum fit to the data. We found that a minimum spatial resolution of ∼100 pixels on the visible disk, and four categories of water clouds, which were defined by using observed cloud positions and optical thicknesses, were needed to yield acceptable fits. The validated model provides a simultaneous fit to Earth's lightcurve, absolute brightness, and spectral data, with a root-mean-square (RMS) error of typically less than 3% for the multiwavelength lightcurves and residuals of ∼10% for the absolute brightness throughout the visible and NIR spectral range. We have extended our validation into the mid-infrared by comparing the model to high spectral resolution observations of Earth from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder, obtaining a fit with residuals of ∼7% and brightness temperature errors of less than 1 K in the atmospheric window. For the purpose of understanding the observable characteristics of the distant Earth at arbitrary viewing geometry and observing cadence, our validated forward model can be used to simulate Earth's time-dependent brightness and spectral properties for wavelengths from the far ultraviolet to the far infrared. Key Words: Astrobiology—Extrasolar terrestrial planets—Habitability—Planetary science—Radiative transfer. Astrobiology 11, 393–408.
The thermo-mechanical properties of planetary surface and subsurface layers control to a high extent in which way a body interacts with its environment, in particular how it responds to solar irradiation and how it interacts with a potentially existing atmosphere. Furthermore, if the natural temperature profile over a certain depth can be measured in situ, this gives important information about the heat flux from the interior and thus about the thermal evolution of the body. Therefore, in most of the recent and planned planetary lander missions experiment packages for determining thermo-mechanical properties are part of the payload. Examples are the experiment MUPUS on Rosetta's comet lander Philae, the TECP instrument aboard NASA's Mars polar lander Phoenix, and the mole-type instrument HP3 currently developed for use on upcoming lunar and Mars missions. In this review we describe several methods applied for measuring thermal conductivity and heat flux and discuss the particular difficulties faced when these properties have to be measured in a low pressure and low temperature environment. We point out the abilities and disadvantages of the different instruments and outline the evaluation procedures necessary to extract reliable thermal conductivity and heat flux data from in situ measurements.
► Numerical simulation of the thermal history of a planetary body. ► Development of robust thermal conductivity sensors for planetary applications. ► Measurement of the global heat flow of a planet or small planetary body.
Thermal conductivity; Planetary surfaces; Lander missions
The crystal structure of perdeuterated diisopropyl fluorophosphatase is reported and compared with the hydrogenated structure. Diffraction guidelines for neutron crystallography experiments are summarized.
The signal-to-noise ratio is one of the limiting factors in neutron macromolecular crystallography. Protein perdeuteration, which replaces all H atoms with deuterium, is a method of improving the signal-to-noise ratio of neutron crystallography experiments by reducing the incoherent scattering of the hydrogen isotope. Detailed analyses of perdeuterated and hydrogenated structures are necessary in order to evaluate the utility of perdeuterated crystals for neutron diffraction studies. The room-temperature X-ray structure of perdeuterated diisopropyl fluorophosphatase (DFPase) is reported at 2.1 Å resolution. Comparison with an independently refined hydrogenated room-temperature structure of DFPase revealed no major systematic differences, although the crystals of perdeuterated DFPase did not diffract neutrons. The lack of diffraction is examined with respect to data-collection and crystallographic parameters. The diffraction characteristics of successful neutron structure determinations are presented as a guideline for future neutron diffraction studies of macromolecules. X-ray diffraction to beyond 2.0 Å resolution appears to be a strong predictor of successful neutron structures.
diisopropyl fluorophosphatase; perdeuteration
Neutron diffraction data of hydrogenated recombinant urate oxidase enzyme (Rasburicase), complexed with a purine-type inhibitor 8-azaxanthin, was collected to 2.1 Å resolution from a crystal grown in D2O by careful control and optimization of crystallization conditions via knowledge of the phase diagram. Deuterium atoms were clearly seen in the neutron-scattering density map.
Crystallization and preliminary neutron diffraction measurements of rasburicase, a recombinant urate oxidase enzyme expressed by a genetically modified Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain, complexed with a purine-type inhibitor (8-azaxanthin) are reported. Neutron Laue diffraction data were collected to 2.1 Å resolution using the LADI instrument from a crystal (grown in D2O) with volume 1.8 mm3. The aim of this neutron diffraction study is to determine the protonation states of the inhibitor and residues within the active site. This will lead to improved comprehension of the enzymatic mechanism of this important enzyme, which is used as a protein drug to reduce toxic uric acid accumulation during chemotherapy. This paper illustrates the high quality of the neutron diffraction data collected, which are suitable for high-resolution structural analysis. In comparison with other neutron protein crystallography studies to date in which a hydrogenated protein has been used, the volume of the crystal was relatively small and yet the data still extend to high resolution. Furthermore, urate oxidase has one of the largest primitive unit-cell volumes (space group I222, unit-cell parameters a = 80, b = 96, c = 106 Å) and molecular weights (135 kDa for the homotetramer) so far successfully studied with neutrons.
urate oxidase; heavy water; phase diagram; neutron Laue diffraction
We measured and assessed ways to reduce the secondary neutron dose from a system for proton eye treatment.
Proton beams of 60.30 MeV were delivered through an eye-treatment snout in passive scattering mode. Allyl diglycol carbonate (CR-39) etch detectors were used to measure the neutron dose in the external field at 0.00, 1.64, and 6.00 cm depths in a water phantom. Secondary neutron doses were measured and compared between those with and without a high-hydrogen–boron-containing block. In addition, the neutron energy and vertices distribution were obtained by using a Geant4 Monte Carlo simulation.
The ratio of the maximum neutron dose equivalent to the proton absorbed dose (H(10)/D) at 2.00 cm from the beam field edge was 8.79 ± 1.28 mSv/Gy. The ratio of the neutron dose equivalent to the proton absorbed dose with and without a high hydrogen-boron containing block was 0.63 ± 0.06 to 1.15 ± 0.13 mSv/Gy at 2.00 cm from the edge of the field at depths of 0.00, 1.64, and 6.00 cm.
We found that the out-of-field secondary neutron dose in proton eye treatment with an eye snout is relatively small, and it can be further reduced by installing a borated neutron absorbing material.
Proton; Secondary; Neutron; CR-39; Boron; Eye
Spore-forming bacteria are of particular concern in the context of planetary protection because their tough endospores may withstand certain sterilization procedures as well as the harsh environments of outer space or planetary surfaces. To test their hardiness on a hypothetical mission to Mars, spores of Bacillus subtilis 168 and Bacillus pumilus SAFR-032 were exposed for 1.5 years to selected parameters of space in the experiment PROTECT during the EXPOSE-E mission on board the International Space Station. Mounted as dry layers on spacecraft-qualified aluminum coupons, the “trip to Mars” spores experienced space vacuum, cosmic and extraterrestrial solar radiation, and temperature fluctuations, whereas the “stay on Mars” spores were subjected to a simulated martian environment that included atmospheric pressure and composition, and UV and cosmic radiation. The survival of spores from both assays was determined after retrieval. It was clearly shown that solar extraterrestrial UV radiation (λ≥110 nm) as well as the martian UV spectrum (λ≥200 nm) was the most deleterious factor applied; in some samples only a few survivors were recovered from spores exposed in monolayers. Spores in multilayers survived better by several orders of magnitude. All other environmental parameters encountered by the “trip to Mars” or “stay on Mars” spores did little harm to the spores, which showed about 50% survival or more. The data demonstrate the high chance of survival of spores on a Mars mission, if protected against solar irradiation. These results will have implications for planetary protection considerations. Key Words: Planetary protection—Bacterial spores—Space experiment—Simulated Mars mission. Astrobiology 12, 445–456.
The generalized longitudinal susceptibility χ(q,ω) affords a sensitive measure of the spatial and temporal correlations of magnetic monopoles in spin ice. Starting with the monopole model, a mean field expression for χ(q,ω) is derived as well as expressions for the mean square longitudinal field and induction at a point. Monopole motion is shown to be strongly correlated, and both spatial and temporal correlations are controlled by the dimensionless monopole density x which defines the ratio of the magnetization relaxation rate and the monopole hop rate. Thermal effects and spin-lattice relaxation are also considered. The derived equations are applicable in the temperature range where the Wien effect for magnetic monopoles is negligible. They are discussed in the context of existing theories of spin ice and the following experimental techniques: DC and AC magnetization, neutron scattering, neutron spin echo and longitudinal and transverse field μSR. The monopole theory is found to unify diverse experimental results, but several discrepancies between theory and experiment are identified. One of these, concerning the neutron scattering line shape, is explained by means of a phenomenological modification to the theory.
spin ice; magnetic monopoles; magnetic susceptibility
Preliminary neutron crystallographic data from the sweet protein thaumatin have been recorded using the LADI-III diffractometer at the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL). The results illustrate the feasibility of a full neutron structural analysis aimed at further understanding the molecular basis of the perception of sweet taste. Such an analysis will exploit the use of perdeuterated thaumatin.
A preliminary neutron crystallographic study of the sweet protein thaumatin is presented. Large hydrogenated crystals were prepared in deuterated crystallization buffer using the gel-acupuncture method. Data were collected to a resolution of 2 Å on the LADI-III diffractometer at the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL). The results demonstrate the feasibility of a full neutron crystallographic analysis of this structure aimed at providing relevant information on the location of H atoms, the distribution of charge on the protein surface and localized water in the structure. This information will be of interest for understanding the specificity of thaumatin–receptor interactions and will contribute to further understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the perception of taste.
thaumatin; neutron diffraction; sweet proteins
During the last decade a methodology for the reconstruction of surface relief by Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) measurements – SAR interferometry – has become a standard. Different techniques developed before, such as stereo-radargrammetry, have been experienced from space only in very limiting geometries and time series, and, hence, branded as less accurate. However, novel formation flying configurations achievable by modern spacecraft allow fulfillment of SAR missions able to produce pairs of monostatic-bistatic images gathered simultaneously, with programmed looking angles. Hence it is possible to achieve large antenna separations, adequate for exploiting to the utmost the stereoscopic effect, and to make negligible time decorrelation, a strong liming factor for repeat-pass stereo-radargrammetric techniques. This paper reports on design of a monostatic-bistatic mission, in terms of orbit and pointing geometry, and taking into account present generation SAR and technology for accurate relative navigation. Performances of different methods for monostatic-bistatic stereo-radargrammetry are then evaluated, showing the possibility to determine the local surface relief with a metric accuracy over a wide range of Earth latitudes.
Spaceborne Monostatic-Bistatic Synthetic Aperture Radar; Single-Pass Stereo-Radargrammetry; Space Mission Design; Terrain Elevation Measurement Accuracy
The neutron crystal structure of human transthyretin is presented.
Transthyretin (TTR) is a tetrameric protein. TTR misfolding and aggregation are associated with human amyloid diseases. Dissociation of the TTR tetramer is believed to be the rate-limiting step in the amyloid fibril formation cascade. Low pH is known to promote dissociation into monomer and the formation of amyloid fibrils. In order to reveal the molecular mechanisms underlying pH sensitivity and structural stabilities of TTR, neutron diffraction studies were conducted using the IBARAKI Biological Crystal Diffractometer with the time-of-flight method. Crystals for the neutron diffraction experiments were grown up to 2.5 mm3 for four months. The neutron crystal structure solved at 2.0 Å revealed the protonation states of His88 and the detailed hydrogen-bond network depending on the protonation states of His88. This hydrogen-bond network is involved in monomer–monomer and dimer–dimer interactions, suggesting that the double protonation of His88 by acidification breaks the hydrogen-bond network and causes the destabilization of the TTR tetramer. Structural comparison with the X-ray crystal structure at acidic pH identified the three amino acid residues responsible for the pH sensitivity of TTR. Our neutron model provides insights into the molecular stability related to amyloidosis.
neutron protein crystallography; transthyretin; amyloidosis; hydrogen-bond network; pH sensitivity
Hydrogen constitutes nearly half of all atoms in proteins and their positions are essential for analyzing hydrogen-bonding interactions and refining atomic-level structures. However, most protein structures determined by experiments or computer prediction lack hydrogen coordinates. We present a new algorithm, HAAD, to predict the positions of hydrogen atoms based on the positions of heavy atoms. The algorithm is built on the basic rules of orbital hybridization followed by the optimization of steric repulsion and electrostatic interactions. We tested the algorithm using three independent data sets: ultra-high-resolution X-ray structures, structures determined by neutron diffraction, and NOE proton-proton distances. Compared with the widely used programs CHARMM and REDUCE, HAAD has a significantly higher accuracy, with the average RMSD of the predicted hydrogen atoms to the X-ray and neutron diffraction structures decreased by 26% and 11%, respectively. Furthermore, hydrogen atoms placed by HAAD have more matches with the NOE restraints and fewer clashes with heavy atoms. The average CPU cost by HAAD is 18 and 8 times lower than that of CHARMM and REDUCE, respectively. The significant advantage of HAAD in both the accuracy and the speed of the hydrogen additions should make HAAD a useful tool for the detailed study of protein structure and function. Both an executable and the source code of HAAD are freely available at http://zhang.bioinformatics.ku.edu/HAAD.
Since the 1960s, the Radiological Research Accelerator Facility (RARAF) has been providing researchers in biology, chemistry and physics with advanced irradiation techniques, using charged particles, photons and neutrons.
We are currently developing a unique facility at RARAF, to simulate neutron spectra from an improvised nuclear device (IND), based on calculations of the neutron spectrum at 1.5 km from the epicenter of the Hiroshima atom bomb. This is significantly different from a standard fission spectrum, because the spectrum changes as the neutrons are transported through air, and is dominated by neutron energies between 0.05 and 8 MeV. This facility will be based on a mixed proton/deuteron beam impinging on a thick beryllium target.
A second, novel facility under development is our new neutron microbeam. The neutron microbeam will, for the first time, provide a kinematically collimated neutron beam, 10–20 micron in diameter. This facility is based on a Proton Microbeam, impinging on a thin lithium target near the threshold of the 7Li(p,n)7Be reaction. This novel neutron microbeam will enable studies of neutron damage to small targets, such as single cells, individual organs within small animals or microelectronic components.
Accelerator applications; Beam optics; Neutron sources; Radiation damage evaluation methods
Fundamental trials to realise the proton polarization technique for detecting hydrogen with higher sensitivity in neutron protein crystallography are described.
The isotope effect in conventional neutron protein crystallography (NPC) can be eliminated by the proton polarization technique (ppt). Furthermore, the ppt can improve detection sensitivity of hydrogen (relative neutron scattering length of hydrogen) by approximately eight times in comparison with conventional NPC. Several technical difficulties, however, should be overcome in order to perform the ppt. In this paper, two fundamental studies to realise ppt are presented: preliminary trials using high-pressure flash freezing has shown the advantage of making bulk water amorphous without destroying the single crystal; and X-ray diffraction and liquid-chromatography/mass-spectrometry analyses of standard proteins after introducing radical molecules into protein crystals have shown that radical molecules could be distributed non-specifically around proteins, which is essential for better proton polarization.
high-sensitivity detection of hydrogen; isotope effect; neutron protein crystallography; proton polarization technique; high-pressure freezing of large biological macromolecules; paramagnetic radical doping
Analytic formulas and Monte Carlo simulation are used to calculate and compare the sensitivity of circular and polygonal orbits at different points in the Field of View (FoV) for both pinhole and slit-slat collimation. Results show that for a given slit-slat collimator an N-sided polygonal orbit tangent to the FoV generally provides average sensitivity lower than the tightest circular orbit consistent with the same aperture angle, but with better spatial resolution that can be traded for sensitivity for a constant-resolution comparison. This generally results in a slight advantage for the polygonal orbit. However, this advantage depends on the clearance that must be allowed between the orbit and the FoV and decreases quickly, vanishing when even a few millimeters of space are left, which in practice is necessary to accommodate mechanical constraints. For a pinhole collimator the advantage for the tangent polygonal orbit is more consistent, but similar conclusions are reached again when clearance is considered. A direct comparison at constant resolution between slit-slat and pinhole collimation in a single transverse plane is shown to be possible with parameters typical of small-animal imaging applications only for detectors with excellent intrinsic resolution; in this case, pinhole collimation is shown to be more sensitive in magnifying geometries, but reduced axial FoV and increased axial blurring should also be considered for a more complete comparison.
There are two distinct objectives in monitoring geological carbon sequestration (GCS): Deep monitoring of the reservoir’s integrity and plume movement and near-surface monitoring (NSM) to ensure public health and the safety of the environment. However, the minimum detection limits of the current instrumentation for NSM is too high for detecting weak signals that are embedded in the background levels of the natural variations, and the data obtained represents point measurements in space and time. A new approach for NSM, based on gamma-ray spectroscopy induced by inelastic neutron scatterings (INS), offers novel and unique characteristics providing the following: (1) High sensitivity with a reducible error of measurement and detection limits, and, (2) temporal- and spatial-integration of carbon in soil that results from underground CO2 seepage. Preliminary field results validated this approach showing carbon suppression of 14% in the first year and 7% in the second year. In addition the temporal behavior of the error propagation is presented and it is shown that for a signal at the level of the minimum detection level the error asymptotically approaches 47%.
carbon; monitoring; geological sequestration; spectroscopy; neutrons; gamma-rays; errors; minimum detectable limits
The implementation of crystallographic structure-refinement procedures that include both X-ray and neutron data (separate or jointly) in the PHENIX system is described.
Approximately 85% of the structures deposited in the Protein Data Bank have been solved using X-ray crystallography, making it the leading method for three-dimensional structure determination of macromolecules. One of the limitations of the method is that the typical data quality (resolution) does not allow the direct determination of H-atom positions. Most hydrogen positions can be inferred from the positions of other atoms and therefore can be readily included into the structure model as a priori knowledge. However, this may not be the case in biologically active sites of macromolecules, where the presence and position of hydrogen is crucial to the enzymatic mechanism. This makes the application of neutron crystallography in biology particularly important, as H atoms can be clearly located in experimental neutron scattering density maps. Without exception, when a neutron structure is determined the corresponding X-ray structure is also known, making it possible to derive the complete structure using both data sets. Here, the implementation of crystallographic structure-refinement procedures that include both X-ray and neutron data (separate or jointly) in the PHENIX system is described.
structure refinement; neutrons; joint X-ray and neutron refinement; PHENIX
Most planetary protection research has concentrated on characterizing viable bioloads on spacecraft surfaces, developing techniques for bioload reduction prior to launch, and studying the effects of simulated martian environments on microbial survival. Little research has examined the persistence of biogenic signature molecules on spacecraft materials under simulated martian surface conditions. This study examined how endogenous adenosine-5′-triphosphate (ATP) would persist on aluminum coupons under simulated martian conditions of 7.1 mbar, full-spectrum simulated martian radiation calibrated to 4 W m−2 of UV-C (200 to 280 nm), −10°C, and a Mars gas mix of CO2 (95.54%), N2 (2.7%), Ar (1.6%), O2 (0.13%), and H2O (0.03%). Cell or spore viabilities of Acinetobacter radioresistens, Bacillus pumilus, and B. subtilis were measured in minutes to hours, while high levels of endogenous ATP were recovered after exposures of up to 21 days. The dominant factor responsible for temporal reductions in viability and loss of ATP was the simulated Mars surface radiation; low pressure, low temperature, and the Mars gas composition exhibited only slight effects. The normal burst of endogenous ATP detected during spore germination in B. pumilus and B. subtilis was reduced by 1 or 2 orders of magnitude following, respectively, 8- or 30-min exposures to simulated martian conditions. The results support the conclusion that endogenous ATP will persist for time periods that are likely to extend beyond the nominal lengths of most surface missions on Mars, and planetary protection protocols prior to launch may require additional rigor to further reduce the presence and abundance of biosignature molecules on spacecraft surfaces.
Equine cyanomethemoglobin has been crystallized and X-ray and neutron diffraction data have been measured. Joint X-ray–neutron refinement is under way; the structural results should help to elucidate the differences between the hemoglobin R and T states.
Room-temperature and 100 K X-ray and room-temperature neutron diffraction data have been measured from equine cyanomethemoglobin to 1.7 Å resolution using a home source, to 1.6 Å resolution on NE-CAT at the Advanced Photon Source and to 2.0 Å resolution on the PCS at Los Alamos Neutron Science Center, respectively. The cyanomethemoglobin is in the R state and preliminary room-temperature electron and neutron scattering density maps clearly show the protonation states of potential Bohr groups. Interestingly, a water molecule that is in the vicinity of the heme group and coordinated to the distal histidine appears to be expelled from this site in the low-temperature structure.
equine hemoglobin; time-of-flight neutron diffraction; R state; joint XN refinement; protonation
The second and third phases of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP) are planning to achieve Moon landing, surface exploration and automated sample return. In these missions, the inertial navigation system (INS) and celestial navigation system (CNS) are two indispensable autonomous navigation systems which can compensate for limitations in the ground based navigation system. The accurate initialization of the INS and the precise calibration of the CNS are needed in order to achieve high navigation accuracy. Neither the INS nor the CNS can solve the above problems using the ground controllers or by themselves on the lunar surface. However, since they are complementary to each other, these problems can be solved by combining them together. A new celestial assisted INS initialization method is presented, in which the initial position and attitude of the explorer as well as the inertial sensors’ biases are estimated by aiding the INS with celestial measurements. Furthermore, the systematic error of the CNS is also corrected by the help of INS measurements. Simulations show that the maximum error in position is 300 m and in attitude 40″, which demonstrates this method is a promising and attractive scheme for explorers on the lunar surface.
lunar exploration; autonomous initialization; inertial navigation; celestial navigation
A 2.0 Å resolution neutron diffraction data set has been collected from a D2O-soaked γ-chymotrypsin crystal at low pH on the Institute Laue–Langevin LADI-III beamline.
The crystal preparation and preliminary neutron diffraction analysis of γ-chymotrypsin are presented. Large hydrogenated crystals of γ-chymotrypsin were exchanged into deuterated buffer via vapor diffusion in a capillary and neutron Laue diffraction data were collected from the resulting crystal to 2.0 Å resolution on the LADI-III diffractometer at the Institut Laue–Langevin (ILL) at room temperature. The neutron structure of a well studied protein such as γ-chymotrypsin, which is also amenable to ultrahigh-resolution X-ray crystallography, represents the first step in developing a model system for the study of H atoms in protein crystals.
γ-chymotrypsin; neutron diffraction
In order to begin an exact determination of hydrogen positions in proteins, a neutron diffraction study of bovine gamma-chymotrypsin has been conducted. This paper details the data collection of the protein at pD (pH*) 7.1.
The overarching goal of this research project is to determine, for a subset of proteins, exact hydrogen positions using neutron diffraction, thereby improving H-atom placement in proteins so that they may be better used in various computational methods that are critically dependent upon said placement. In order to be considered applicable for neutron diffraction studies, the protein of choice must be amenable to ultrahigh-resolution X-ray crystallography, be able to form large crystals (1 mm3 or greater) and have a modestly sized unit cell (no dimension longer than 100 Å). As such, γ-chymotrypsin is a perfect candidate for neutron diffraction. To understand and probe the role of specific active-site residues and hydrogen-bonding patterns in γ-chymotrypsin, neutron diffraction studies were initiated at the Protein Crystallography Station (PCS) at Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE). A large single crystal was subjected to H/D exchange prior to data collection. Time-of-flight neutron diffraction data were collected to 2.0 Å resolution at the PCS with ∼85% completeness. Here, the first time-of-flight neutron data collection from γ-chymotrypsin is reported.
neutron diffraction; γ-chymotrypsin
Preliminary neutron crystallographic data from the serine protease proteinase K have been recorded using the LADI-III diffractometer at the Institut Laue–Langevin. The results illustrate the feasibility of a full neutron structural analysis aimed at further understanding the catalytic mechanism of proteinase K.
A preliminary neutron crystallographic study of the proteolytic enzyme proteinase K is presented. Large hydrogenated crystals were prepared in deuterated crystallization buffer using the vapor-diffusion method. Data were collected to a resolution of 2.3 Å on the LADI-III diffractometer at the Institut Laue–Langevin (ILL) in 2.5 d. The results demonstrate the feasibility of a full neutron crystallographic analysis of this structure with the aim of providing relevant information on the location of H atoms, particularly at the active site. This information will contribute to further understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the catalytic activity of proteinase K and to an enriched understanding of the subtilisin clan of serine proteases.
neutron diffraction; proteinase K; serine protease
To many biophysical characterisation techniques, biological membranes appear as two-dimensional structures with details of their third dimension hidden within a 5 nm profile. Probing this structure requires methods able to discriminate multiple layers a few Ångströms thick. Given sufficient resolution, neutron methods can provide the required discrimination between different biochemical components, especially when selective deuteration is employed. We have used state-of-the-art neutron reflection methods, with resolution enhancement via magnetic contrast variation to study an oriented model membrane system. The model is based on the Escherichia coli outer membrane protein OmpF fixed to a gold surface via an engineered cysteine residue. Below the gold is buried a magnetic metal layer which, in a magnetic field, displays different scattering strengths to spin-up and spin-down neutrons. This provides two independent datasets from a single biological sample. Simultaneous fitting of the two datasets significantly refines the resulting model. A β-mercaptoethanol (βME) passivating surface, applied to the gold to prevent protein denaturation, is resolved for the first time as an 8.2 ± 0.6 Å thick layer, demonstrating the improved resolution and confirming that this layer remains after OmpF assembly. The thiolipid monolayer (35.3 ± 0.5 Å), assembled around the OmpF is determined and finally a fluid DMPC layer is added (total lipid thickness 58.7 ± 0.9 Å). The dimensions of trimeric OmpF in isolation (53.6 ± 2.5 Å), after assembly of lipid monolayer (57.5 ± 0.9 Å) and lipid bilayer (58.7 ± 0.9 Å), are precisely determined and show little variation.