Hardware and software solutions for MX data-collection strategies using the EMBL/ESRF miniaturized multi-axis goniometer head are presented.
Most macromolecular crystallography (MX) diffraction experiments at synchrotrons use a single-axis goniometer. This markedly contrasts with small-molecule crystallography, in which the majority of the diffraction data are collected using multi-axis goniometers. A novel miniaturized κ-goniometer head, the MK3, has been developed to allow macromolecular crystals to be aligned. It is available on the majority of the structural biology beamlines at the ESRF, as well as elsewhere. In addition, the Strategy for the Alignment of Crystals (STAC) software package has been developed to facilitate the use of the MK3 and other similar devices. Use of the MK3 and STAC is streamlined by their incorporation into online analysis tools such as EDNA. The current use of STAC and MK3 on the MX beamlines at the ESRF is discussed. It is shown that the alignment of macromolecular crystals can result in improved diffraction data quality compared with data obtained from randomly aligned crystals.
kappa goniometer; crystal alignment; data-collection strategies
A powerful and easy-to-use workflow environment has been developed at the ESRF for combining experiment control with online data analysis on synchrotron beamlines. This tool provides the possibility of automating complex experiments without the need for expertise in instrumentation control and programming, but rather by accessing defined beamline services.
The automation of beam delivery, sample handling and data analysis, together with increasing photon flux, diminishing focal spot size and the appearance of fast-readout detectors on synchrotron beamlines, have changed the way that many macromolecular crystallography experiments are planned and executed. Screening for the best diffracting crystal, or even the best diffracting part of a selected crystal, has been enabled by the development of microfocus beams, precise goniometers and fast-readout detectors that all require rapid feedback from the initial processing of images in order to be effective. All of these advances require the coupling of data feedback to the experimental control system and depend on immediate online data-analysis results during the experiment. To facilitate this, a Data Analysis WorkBench (DAWB) for the flexible creation of complex automated protocols has been developed. Here, example workflows designed and implemented using DAWB are presented for enhanced multi-step crystal characterizations, experiments involving crystal reorientation with kappa goniometers, crystal-burning experiments for empirically determining the radiation sensitivity of a crystal system and the application of mesh scans to find the best location of a crystal to obtain the highest diffraction quality. Beamline users interact with the prepared workflows through a specific brick within the beamline-control GUI MXCuBE.
workflows; automation; data processing; macromolecular crystallography; experimental protocols; characterization; reorientation; radiation damage
A high-precision diffractometer with a synchrotron radiation microfocusing technique has been developed to investigate the crystal structure of a submicrometre-scale single grain of powder sample. The structure of a BaTiO3 single powder grain, of dimensions ∼600 × 600 × 300 nm, was determined.
A high-precision diffractometer has been developed for the structure analysis of a submicrometre-scale single grain of a powder sample at the SPring-8 BL40XU undulator beamline. The key design concept is the combination of a stable focused synchrotron radiation beam and the precise axis control of the diffractometer, which allows accurate diffraction intensity data of a submicrometre-scale single powder grain to be measured. The phase zone plate was designed to create a high-flux focused synchrotron radiation beam. A low-eccentric goniometer and high-precision sample positioning stages were adopted to ensure the alignment of a micrometre-scale focused synchrotron radiation beam onto the submicrometre-scale single powder grain. In order to verify the diffractometer performance, the diffraction pattern data of several powder grains of BaTiO3, of dimensions ∼600 × 600 × 300 nm, were measured. By identifying the diffraction data set of one single powder grain, the crystal structure was successfully determined with a reliable factor of 5.24%.
submicrometre X-ray beam; phase zone plate; X-ray diffraction; single-crystal structure analysis; powder diffraction
An automated loop-centring program and a high-precision goniometer head used at the Swiss Light Source are described.
Automatic loop centring has been developed as part of the automation process in crystallographic data collection at the Swiss Light Source. The procedure described here consists of an optional set-up part, in which the background images are taken, and the actual centring part. The algorithm uses boundary and centre-of-mass detection at two different microscope image magnifications. Micromounts can be handled as well. Centring of the loops can be achieved in 15–26 s, depending on their initial position, and as fast as manual centring. The alignment of the sample is carried out by means of a new flexural-hinge-based compact goniometer head. The device features an electromagnet for robotic wet mounting of samples. The circle of confusion was measured to be smaller than 1 µm (r.m.s.); its bidirectional backlash is below 2 µm.
beamline automation; sample centring; goniometer head
A system for the automatic reduction of single- and multi-position macromolecular crystallography data is presented.
The development of automated high-intensity macromolecular crystallography (MX) beamlines at synchrotron facilities has resulted in a remarkable increase in sample throughput. Developments in X-ray detector technology now mean that complete X-ray diffraction datasets can be collected in less than one minute. Such high-speed collection, and the volumes of data that it produces, often make it difficult for even the most experienced users to cope with the deluge. However, the careful reduction of data during experimental sessions is often necessary for the success of a particular project or as an aid in decision making for subsequent experiments. Automated data reduction pipelines provide a fast and reliable alternative to user-initiated processing at the beamline. In order to provide such a pipeline for the MX user community of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), a system for the rapid automatic processing of MX diffraction data from single and multiple positions on a single or multiple crystals has been developed. Standard integration and data analysis programs have been incorporated into the ESRF data collection, storage and computing environment, with the final results stored and displayed in an intuitive manner in the ISPyB (information system for protein crystallography beamlines) database, from which they are also available for download. In some cases, experimental phase information can be automatically determined from the processed data. Here, the system is described in detail.
automation; data processing; macromolecular crystallography; computer programs
The improvement of the X-ray beam quality achieved on ID14-4 by the installation of new X-ray optical elements is described.
ID14-4 at the ESRF is the first tunable undulator-based macromolecular crystallography beamline that can celebrate a decade of user service. During this time ID14-4 has not only been instrumental in the determination of the structures of biologically important molecules but has also contributed significantly to the development of various instruments, novel data collection schemes and pioneering radiation damage studies on biological samples. Here, the evolution of ID14-4 over the last decade is presented, and some of the major improvements that were carried out in order to maintain its status as one of the most productive macromolecular crystallography beamlines are highlighted. The experimental hutch has been upgraded to accommodate a high-precision diffractometer, a sample changer and a large CCD detector. More recently, the optical hutch has been refurbished in order to improve the X-ray beam quality on ID14-4 and to incorporate the most modern and robust optical elements used at other ESRF beamlines. These new optical elements will be described and their effect on beam stability discussed. These studies may be useful in the design, construction and maintenance of future X-ray beamlines for macromolecular crystallography and indeed other applications, such as those planned for the ESRF upgrade.
macromolecular crystallography; X-ray beam quality; beamline diagnostics; beamline automation
A novel automatic procedure to determine the sensitivity of macromolecular crystals to radiation damage is presented. The information extracted from this procedure can be directly used for optimal planning of data collection or/and beamline calibration.
A reliable and reproducible method to automatically characterize the radiation sensitivity of macromolecular crystals at the ESRF beamlines has been developed. This new approach uses the slope of the linear dependence of the overall isotropic B-factor with absorbed dose as the damage metric. The method has been implemented through an automated procedure using the EDNA on-line data analysis framework and the MxCuBE data collection control interface. The outcome of the procedure can be directly used to design an optimal data collection strategy. The results of tests carried out on a number of model and real-life crystal systems are presented.
BEST; EDNA; radiation damage
Sample-exchange robots with a double-tongs system that could exchange samples within 10 s have been developed.
Sample-exchange robots that can exchange cryo-pins bearing protein crystals out of experimental hutches according to user instructions have been developed. The robots were designed based on the SAM (Stanford Synchrotron Research Laboratory automated mounting) system. In order to reduce the time required for the sample exchange, the single tongs of the SAM system were modified and a double-tongs system that can hold two cryo-pins at the same time was developed. Robots with double tongs can move to the goniometer head holding the next cryo-pin with one set of tongs, dismount the experimented cryo-pin with the other set, and then mount the next pin onto the goniometer head without leaving the diffractometer area. Two different types of tongs have been installed: single tongs at beamlines BL-5A and AR-NW12A, and a double-tongs system at beamline BL-17A of the Photon Factory. The same graphical user interface software for operation of the sample-exchange robots is used at all beamlines, however, so that users do not need to consider differences between the systems. In a trial, the robot with double tongs could exchange samples within 10 s.
sample-exchange robot; protein crystallography; automated system; diffraction experiment
A ‘mini-beam’ apparatus has been developed that conditions the size of an X-ray beam to 5 µm. The design of the apparatus and the characterization of the focal size and flux are presented.
The high-brilliance X-ray beams from undulator sources at third-generation synchrotron facilities are excellent tools for solving crystal structures of important and challenging biological macromolecules and complexes. However, many of the most important structural targets yield crystals that are too small or too inhomogeneous for a ‘standard’ beam from an undulator source, ∼25–50 µm (FWHM) in the vertical and 50–100 µm in the horizontal direction. Although many synchrotron facilities have microfocus beamlines for other applications, this capability for macromolecular crystallography was pioneered at ID-13 of the ESRF. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences and National Cancer Institute Collaborative Access Team (GM/CA-CAT) dual canted undulator beamlines at the APS deliver high-intensity focused beams with a minimum focal size of 20 µm × 65 µm at the sample position. To meet growing user demand for beams to study samples of 10 µm or less, a ‘mini-beam’ apparatus was developed that conditions the focused beam to either 5 µm or 10 µm (FWHM) diameter with high intensity. The mini-beam has a symmetric Gaussian shape in both the horizontal and vertical directions, and reduces the vertical divergence of the focused beam by 25%. Significant reduction in background was achieved by implementation of both forward- and back-scatter guards. A unique triple-collimator apparatus, which has been in routine use on both undulator beamlines since February 2008, allows users to rapidly interchange the focused beam and conditioned mini-beams of two sizes with a single mouse click. The device and the beam are stable over many hours of routine operation. The rapid-exchange capability has greatly facilitated sample screening and resulted in several structures that could not have been obtained with the larger focused beam.
mini-beam; microbeam; microdiffraction; macromolecular crystallography
Even though technological progress has provided us with more and more sophisticated equipment for making goniometric measurements, the most commonly used clinical tools are still the universal goniometer and, to a lesser extent, the inclinometer. There is, however, no published study so far that uses an inclinometer for measurements in children with cerebral palsy (CP). The objective of this study was two-fold: to independently assess the intra and inter-examiner reliability for measuring the hip abduction range of motion in children with CP using two different instruments, the universal two-axis goniometer and electronic inclinometer. A pool of 5 examiners with different levels of experience as paediatric physiotherapists participated. The study did not compare both instruments because the measurement procedure and the hip position were different for each.
A prospective, observational study of goniometery was carried out with 14 lower extremities of 7 children with spastic CP. The inclinometer study was carried out with 8 lower extremities of 4 children with spastic CP. This study was divided into two independent parts: a study of the reliability of the hip abduction range of motion measured with a universal goniometer (hip at 0° flexion) and with an electronic inclinometer (hip at 90° flexion). The Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC) was calculated to analyse intra and inter-examiner agreement for each instrument.
For the goniometer, the intra-examiner reliability was excellent (>0.80), while the inter-examiner reliability was low (0.375 and 0.475). For the inclinometer, both the intra-examiner (0.850-0.975) and inter-examiner reliability were excellent (0.965 and 0.979).
The inter-examiner reliability for goniometric measurement of hip abduction in children with CP was low, in keeping with other results found in previous publications. The inclinometer has proved to be a highly reliable tool for measuring the hip abduction range of motion in children with CP, which opens up new possibilities in this field, despite having some measurement limitations.
This article presents and technically describes a new field spectro-goniometer system for the ground-based characterization of the surface reflectance anisotropy under natural illumination conditions developed at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI). The spectro-goniometer consists of a Manual Transportable Instrument platform for ground-based Spectro-directional observations (ManTIS), and a hyperspectral sensor system. The presented measurement strategy shows that the AWI ManTIS field spectro-goniometer can deliver high quality hemispherical conical reflectance factor (HCRF) measurements with a pointing accuracy of ±6 cm within the constant observation center. The sampling of a ManTIS hemisphere (up to 30° viewing zenith, 360° viewing azimuth) needs approx. 18 min. The developed data processing chain in combination with the software used for the semi-automatic control provides a reliable method to reduce temporal effects during the measurements. The presented visualization and analysis approaches of the HCRF data of an Arctic low growing vegetation showcase prove the high quality of spectro-goniometer measurements. The patented low-cost and lightweight ManTIS instrument platform can be customized for various research needs and is available for purchase.
reflectance anisotropy; spectro-directional remote sensing; spectro-goniometer; HDRF; BRDF; hyperspectral HCRF measurements
MxCuBE is a beamline control environment optimized for the needs of macromolecular crystallography. This paper describes the design of the software and the features that MxCuBE currently provides.
The design and features of a beamline control software system for macromolecular crystallography (MX) experiments developed at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) are described. This system, MxCuBE, allows users to easily and simply interact with beamline hardware components and provides automated routines for common tasks in the operation of a synchrotron beamline dedicated to experiments in MX. Additional functionality is provided through intuitive interfaces that enable the assessment of the diffraction characteristics of samples, experiment planning, automatic data collection and the on-line collection and analysis of X-ray emission spectra. The software can be run in a tandem client-server mode that allows for remote control and relevant experimental parameters and results are automatically logged in a relational database, ISPyB. MxCuBE is modular, flexible and extensible and is currently deployed on eight macromolecular crystallography beamlines at the ESRF. Additionally, the software is installed at MAX-lab beamline I911-3 and at BESSY beamline BL14.1.
automation; macromolecular crystallography; synchrotron beamline control; graphical user interface
The key features of the functionality facilitating proprietary use of the ESRF’s structural biology beamlines are described, as are the major advantages, in terms of beamline evolution, of the interaction of the ESRF with the pharmaceutical industry.
The ESRF has worked with, and provided services for, the pharmaceutical industry since the construction of its first protein crystallography beamline in the mid-1990s. In more recent times, industrial clients have benefited from a portfolio of beamlines which offer a wide range of functionality and beam characteristics, including tunability, microfocus and micro-aperture. Included in this portfolio is a small-angle X-ray scattering beamline dedicated to the study of biological molecules in solution. The high demands on throughput and efficiency made by the ESRF’s industrial clients have been a major driving force in the evolution of the ESRF’s macromolecular crystallography resources, which now include remote access, the automation of crystal screening and data collection, and a beamline database allowing sample tracking, experiment reporting and real-time at-a-distance monitoring of experiments. This paper describes the key features of the functionality put in place on the ESRF structural biology beamlines and outlines the major advantages of the interaction of the ESRF with the pharmaceutical industry.
synchrotron MX beamlines; proprietary access; service data collection; automation
Opening-wedge high tibial osteotomy is an increasingly performed procedure for treatment of varus gonarthrosis and correction of malalignment during meniscal transplantation or cartilage restoration. Precise preoperative planning and meticulous surgical technique are required to achieve an appropriate mechanical axis correction. We describe our technique of arthroscopic and computer-assisted high tibial osteotomy using commonly available total knee arthroplasty navigation software as an intraoperative goniometer. We believe that our technique, by providing intraoperative real-time guidance of the degree of correction that is accurate and reliable, represents a useful tool for the surgeon who uncommonly performs high tibial osteotomy.
On-the-fly adaptive edge scanning and shuttle on-the-fly rastering fluorescence techniques have been developed to improve the efficiency of macromolecular crystallography beamlines.
This paper reports on several developments of X-ray fluorescence techniques for macromolecular crystallography recently implemented at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and National Cancer Institute beamlines at the Advanced Photon Source. These include (i) three-band on-the-fly energy scanning around absorption edges with adaptive positioning of the fine-step band calculated from a coarse pass; (ii) on-the-fly X-ray fluorescence rastering over rectangular domains for locating small and invisible crystals with a shuttle-scanning option for increased speed; (iii) fluorescence rastering over user-specified multi-segmented polygons; and (iv) automatic signal optimization for reduced radiation damage of samples.
macromolecular crystallography; beamline automation; data acquisition; high-throughput crystallography; X-ray fluorescence; multi-wavelength anomalous diffraction
Implementation of the RED software package for automated collection and processing of rotation electron diffraction data is described.
Implementation of a computer program package for automated collection and processing of rotation electron diffraction (RED) data is described. The software package contains two computer programs: RED data collection and RED data processing. The RED data collection program controls the transmission electron microscope and the camera. Electron beam tilts at a fine step (0.05–0.20°) are combined with goniometer tilts at a coarse step (2.0–3.0°) around a common tilt axis, which allows a fine relative tilt to be achieved between the electron beam and the crystal in a large tilt range. An electron diffraction (ED) frame is collected at each combination of beam tilt and goniometer tilt. The RED data processing program processes three-dimensional ED data generated by the RED data collection program or by other approaches. It includes shift correction of the ED frames, peak hunting for diffraction spots in individual ED frames and identification of these diffraction spots as reflections in three dimensions. Unit-cell parameters are determined from the positions of reflections in three-dimensional reciprocal space. All reflections are indexed, and finally a list with hkl indices and intensities is output. The data processing program also includes a visualizer to view and analyse three-dimensional reciprocal lattices reconstructed from the ED frames. Details of the implementation are described. Data collection and data processing with the software RED are demonstrated using a calcined zeolite sample, silicalite-1. The structure of the calcined silicalite-1, with 72 unique atoms, could be solved from the RED data by routine direct methods.
rotation electron diffraction; electron diffraction tomography; three-dimensional electron diffraction; structure analysis; electron diffraction; computer programs
Algorithms for the reciprocal space conversion of linear and area detectors are implemented in an open-source Python package.
General algorithms to convert scattering data of linear and area detectors recorded in various scattering geometries to reciprocal space coordinates are presented. These algorithms work for any goniometer configuration including popular four-circle, six-circle and kappa goniometers. The use of commonly employed approximations is avoided and therefore the algorithms work also for large detectors at small sample–detector distances. A recipe for determining the necessary detector parameters including mostly ignored misalignments is given. The algorithms are implemented in a freely available open-source package.
X-ray scattering; data analysis; reciprocal space; computer programs
For the first time, protein microcrystallography has been performed with a focused synchrotron-radiation beam of 1 µm using a goniometer with a sub-micrometre sphere of confusion. The crystal structure of xylanase II has been determined with a flux density of about 3 × 1010 photons s−1 µm−2 at the sample.
For the first time, protein microcrystallography has been performed with a focused synchrotron-radiation beam of 1 µm using a goniometer with a sub-micrometre sphere of confusion. The crystal structure of xylanase II has been determined with a flux density of about 3 × 1010 photons s−1 µm−2 at the sample. Two sets of diffraction images collected from different sized crystals were shown to comprise data of good quality, which allowed a 1.5 Å resolution xylanase II structure to be obtained. The main conclusion of this experiment is that a high-resolution diffraction pattern can be obtained from 20 µm3 crystal volume, corresponding to about 2 × 108 unit cells. Despite the high irradiation dose in this case, it was possible to obtain an excellent high-resolution map and it could be concluded from the individual atomic B-factor patterns that there was no evidence of significant radiation damage. The photoelectron escape from a narrow diffraction channel is a possible reason for reduced radiation damage as indicated by Monte Carlo simulations. These results open many new opportunities in scanning protein microcrystallography and make random data collection from microcrystals a real possibility, therefore enabling structures to be solved from much smaller crystals than previously anticipated as long as the crystallites are well ordered.
microcrystallography; xylanase II
A low-cost light-emitting diode (LED) UV source has been developed for facilitating macromolecular sample centring in the X-ray beam.
A direct outcome of the exponential growth of macromolecular crystallography is the continuously increasing demand for synchrotron beam time, both from academic and industrial users. As more and more projects entail screening a profusion of sample crystals, fully automated procedures at every level of the experiments are being implemented at all synchrotron facilities. One of the major obstacles to achieving such automation lies in the sample recognition and centring in the X-ray beam. The capacity of UV light to specifically react with aromatic residues present in proteins or with DNA base pairs is at the basis of UV-assisted crystal centring. Although very efficient, a well known side effect of illuminating biological samples with strong UV sources is the damage induced on the irradiated samples. In the present study the effectiveness of a softer UV light for crystal centring by taking advantage of low-power light-emitting diode (LED) sources has been investigated. The use of UV LEDs represents a low-cost solution for crystal centring with high specificity.
UV light; LED; macromolecular crystallography; automation; high throughput; crystal centring
The design and calibration of a new hyperspectral Compact Laboratory Spectro-Goniometer (CLabSpeG) is presented. CLabSpeG effectively measures the bidirectional reflectance Factor (BRF) of a sample, using a halogen light source and an Analytical Spectral Devices (ASD) spectroradiometer. The apparatus collects 4356 reflectance data readings covering the spectrum from 350 nm to 2500 nm by independent positioning of the sensor, sample holder, and light source. It has an azimuth and zenith resolution of 30 and 15 degrees, respectively. CLabSpeG is used to collect BRF data and extract Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function (BRDF) data of non-isotropic vegetation elements such as bark, soil, and leaves. Accurate calibration has ensured robust geometric accuracy of the apparatus, correction for the conicality of the light source, while sufficient radiometric stability and repeatability between measurements are obtained. The bidirectional reflectance data collection is automated and remotely controlled and takes approximately two and half hours for a BRF measurement cycle over a full hemisphere with 125 cm radius and 2.4 minutes for a single BRF acquisition. A specific protocol for vegetative leaf collection and measurement was established in order to investigate the possibility to extract BRDF values from Fagus sylvatica L. leaves under laboratory conditions. Drying leaf effects induce a reflectance change during the BRF measurements due to the laboratory illumination source. Therefore, the full hemisphere could not be covered with one leaf. Instead 12 BRF measurements per leaf were acquired covering all azimuth positions for a single light source zenith position. Data are collected in radiance format and reflectance is calculated by dividing the leaf cycle measurement with a radiance cycle of a Spectralon reference panel, multiplied by a Spectralon reflectance correction factor and a factor to correct for the conical effect of the light source. BRF results of measured leaves are presented.
BRDF-retrieval; BRF-measurement; multi-angular; hyperspectral; spectroradiometer; vegetation; heat-stress
A special liquid-nitrogen Dewar with double capacity for the sample-exchange robot has been created at AR-NE3A at the Photon Factory, allowing continuous fully automated data collection. In this work, this new system is described and the stability of its calibration is discussed.
Photon Factory Automated Mounting system (PAM) protein crystal exchange systems are available at the following Photon Factory macromolecular beamlines: BL-1A, BL-5A, BL-17A, AR-NW12A and AR-NE3A. The beamline AR-NE3A has been constructed for high-throughput macromolecular crystallography and is dedicated to structure-based drug design. The PAM liquid-nitrogen Dewar can store a maximum of three SSRL cassettes. Therefore, users have to interrupt their experiments and replace the cassettes when using four or more of them during their beam time. As a result of investigation, four or more cassettes were used in AR-NE3A alone. For continuous automated data collection, the size of the liquid-nitrogen Dewar for the AR-NE3A PAM was increased, doubling the capacity. In order to check the calibration with the new Dewar and the cassette stand, calibration experiments were repeatedly performed. Compared with the current system, the parameters of the novel system are shown to be stable.
protein crystallography; sample-exchange robot; automated system
The BL-17A macromolecular crystallography beamline at the Photon Factory was updated to improve the accuracy of diffraction experiments conducted using tiny crystals.
BL-17A is a macromolecular crystallography beamline dedicated to diffraction experiments conducted using micro-crystals and structure determination studies using a lower energy X-ray beam. In these experiments, highly accurate diffraction intensity measurements are definitively important. Since this beamline was constructed, the beamline apparatus has been improved in several ways to enable the collection of accurate diffraction data. The stability of the beam intensities at the sample position was recently improved by modifying the monochromator. The diffractometer has also been improved. A new detector table was installed to prevent distortions in the diffractometer’s base during the repositioning of the diffractometer detector. A new pinhole system and an on-axis viewing system were installed to improve the X-ray beam profile at the sample position and the centering of tiny crystal samples.
macromolecular crystallography; beamline
The evolution of AR-NW12A into a multi-purpose end-station with optional high-pressure crystallography is described.
The macromolecular crystallography (MX) beamline AR-NW12A is evolving from its original design of high-throughput crystallography to a multi-purpose end-station. Among the various options to be implemented, great efforts were made in making available high-pressure MX (HPMX) at the beamline. High-pressure molecular biophysics is a developing field that attracts the interest of a constantly growing scientific community. A plethora of activities can benefit from high pressure, and investigations have been performed on its applicability to study multimeric complex assemblies, compressibility of proteins and their crystals, macromolecules originating from extremophiles, or even the trapping of higher-energy conformers for molecules of biological interest. Recent studies using HPMX showed structural hydrostatic-pressure-induced changes in proteins. The conformational modifications could explain the enzymatic mechanism differences between proteins of the same family, living at different environmental pressures, as well as the initial steps in the pressure-denaturation process that have been attributed to water penetration into the protein interior. To facilitate further HPMX, while allowing access to various individualized set-ups and experiments, the AR-NW12A sample environment has been revisited. Altogether, the newly added implementations will bring a fresh breath of life to AR-NW12A and allow the MX community to experiment in a larger set of fields related to structural biology.
HPMX; DAC; high pressure; PDIS
The latest revolution in macromolecular crystallography was incited by the development of dedicated, user friendly, micro-crystallography beamlines. Brilliant X-ray beams of diameter 20 microns or less, now available at most synchrotron sources, enable structure determination from samples that previously were inaccessible. Relative to traditional crystallography, crystals with one or more small dimensions have diffraction patterns with vastly improved signal-to-noise when recorded with an appropriately matched beam size. Structures can be solved from isolated, well diffracting regions within inhomogeneous samples. This review summarizes the technological requirements and approaches to producing micro-beams and how they continue to change the practice of crystallography.
A comparison of X-ray diffraction and radiographic techniques for the location and characterization of protein crystals is demonstrated on membrane protein crystals mounted within lipid cubic phase material.
The focus in macromolecular crystallography is moving towards even more challenging target proteins that often crystallize on much smaller scales and are frequently mounted in opaque or highly refractive materials. It is therefore essential that X-ray beamline technology develops in parallel to accommodate such difficult samples. In this paper, the use of X-ray microradiography and microtomography is reported as a tool for crystal visualization, location and characterization on the macromolecular crystallography beamlines at the Diamond Light Source. The technique is particularly useful for microcrystals and for crystals mounted in opaque materials such as lipid cubic phase. X-ray diffraction raster scanning can be used in combination with radiography to allow informed decision-making at the beamline prior to diffraction data collection. It is demonstrated that the X-ray dose required for a full tomography measurement is similar to that for a diffraction grid-scan, but for sample location and shape estimation alone just a few radiographic projections may be required.
membrane proteins; lipid cubic phase; microradiography; microtomography