At the Photon Factory macromolecular crystallography beamlines, two new functions, remote monitoring and diffraction image evaluation, have been developed and installed on the beamline controlling system STARS (simple transmission and retrieval system).
Owing to recent advances in high-throughput technology in macromolecular crystallography beamlines, such as high-brilliant X-ray sources, high-speed readout detectors and robotics, the number of samples that can be examined in a single visit to the beamline has increased dramatically. In order to make these experiments more efficient, two functions, remote monitoring and diffraction image evaluation, have been implemented in the macromolecular crystallography beamlines at the Photon Factory (PF). Remote monitoring allows scientists to participate in the experiment by watching from their laboratories, without having to come to the beamline. Diffraction image evaluation makes experiments easier, especially when using the sample exchange robot. To implement these two functions, two independent clients have been developed that work specifically for remote monitoring and diffraction image evaluation. In the macromolecular crystallography beamlines at PF, beamline control is performed using STARS (simple transmission and retrieval system). The system adopts a client–server style in which client programs communicate with each other through a server process using the STARS protocol. This is an advantage of the extension of the system; implementation of these new functions required few modifications of the existing system.
macromolecular crystallography; beamline control system; remote monitoring; diffraction image evaluation
The SIBYLS beamline of the Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is a dual endstation small-angle X-ray scattering and macromolecular crystallography beamline. Key features and capabilities are described along with implementation and performance.
The SIBYLS beamline (12.3.1) of the Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, supported by the US Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health, is optimized for both small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and macromolecular crystallography (MX), making it unique among the world’s mostly SAXS or MX dedicated beamlines. Since SIBYLS was commissioned, assessments of the limitations and advantages of a combined SAXS and MX beamline have suggested new strategies for integration and optimal data collection methods and have led to additional hardware and software enhancements. Features described include a dual mode monochromator [containing both Si(111) crystals and Mo/B4C multilayer elements], rapid beamline optics conversion between SAXS and MX modes, active beam stabilization, sample-loading robotics, and mail-in and remote data collection. These features allow users to gain valuable insights from both dynamic solution scattering and high-resolution atomic diffraction experiments performed at a single synchrotron beamline. Key practical issues considered for data collection and analysis include radiation damage, structural ensembles, alternative conformers and flexibility. SIBYLS develops and applies efficient combined MX and SAXS methods that deliver high-impact results by providing robust cost-effective routes to connect structures to biology and by performing experiments that aid beamline designs for next generation light sources.
small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS); macromolecular crystallography (MX); synchrotron beamlines; SIBYLS
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 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 design, performance and first results of the new macromolecular crystallography beamline BL13-XALOC at the ALBA Synchrotron are described, including new developments in optics and control.
BL13-XALOC is currently the only macromolecular crystallography beamline at the 3 GeV ALBA synchrotron near Barcelona, Spain. The optics design is based on an in-vacuum undulator, a Si(111) channel-cut crystal monochromator and a pair of KB mirrors. It allows three main operation modes: a focused configuration, where both mirrors can focus the beam at the sample position to 52 µm × 5.5 µm FWHM (H × V); a defocused configuration that can match the size of the beam to the dimensions of the crystals or to focus the beam at the detector; and an unfocused configuration, where one or both mirrors are removed from the photon beam path. To achieve a uniform defocused beam, the slope errors of the mirrors were reduced down to 55 nrad RMS by employing a novel method that has been developed at the ALBA high-accuracy metrology laboratory. Thorough commissioning with X-ray beam and user operation has demonstrated an excellent energy and spatial stability of the beamline. The end-station includes a high-accuracy single-axis diffractometer, a removable mini-kappa stage, an automated sample-mounting robot and a photon-counting detector that allows shutterless operation. The positioning tables of the diffractometer and the detector are based on a novel and highly stable design. This equipment, together with the operation flexibility of the beamline, allows a large variety of types of crystals to be tackled, from medium-sized crystals with large unit-cell parameters to microcrystals. Several examples of data collections measured during beamline commissioning are described. The beamline started user operation on 18 July 2012.
macromolecular crystallography; beamline; Alba; mirror slope errors
An iOS app has been developed as a front end to ISPyB, a laboratory information system for macromolecular crystallography synchrotron beamlines.
The macromolecular crystallography (MX) user experience at synchrotron radiation facilities continues to evolve, with the impact of developments in X-ray detectors, computer hardware and automation methods making it possible for complete data sets to be collected on timescales of tens of seconds. Data can be reduced in a couple of minutes and in favourable cases structures solved and refined shortly after. The information-rich database ISPyB, automatically populated by data acquisition software, data processing and structure solution pipelines at the Diamond Light Source beamlines, allows users to automatically track MX experiments in real time. In order to improve the synchrotron users’ experience, efficient access to the data contained in ISPyB is now provided via an iOS 6.0+ app for iPhones and iPads. This provides users, both local and remote, with a succinct summary of data collection, visualization of diffraction images and crystals, and key metrics for data quality in real time.
remote data collection; synchrotron radiation; macromolecular crystallography; laboratory information management systems (LIMS)
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
The room-temperature structure of lysozyme is determined using 40000 individual diffraction patterns from micro-crystals flowing in liquid suspension across a synchrotron microfocus beamline.
A new approach for collecting data from many hundreds of thousands of microcrystals using X-ray pulses from a free-electron laser has recently been developed. Referred to as serial crystallography, diffraction patterns are recorded at a constant rate as a suspension of protein crystals flows across the path of an X-ray beam. Events that by chance contain single-crystal diffraction patterns are retained, then indexed and merged to form a three-dimensional set of reflection intensities for structure determination. This approach relies upon several innovations: an intense X-ray beam; a fast detector system; a means to rapidly flow a suspension of crystals across the X-ray beam; and the computational infrastructure to process the large volume of data. Originally conceived for radiation-damage-free measurements with ultrafast X-ray pulses, the same methods can be employed with synchrotron radiation. As in powder diffraction, the averaging of thousands of observations per Bragg peak may improve the ratio of signal to noise of low-dose exposures. Here, it is shown that this paradigm can be implemented for room-temperature data collection using synchrotron radiation and exposure times of less than 3 ms. Using lysozyme microcrystals as a model system, over 40 000 single-crystal diffraction patterns were obtained and merged to produce a structural model that could be refined to 2.1 Å resolution. The resulting electron density is in excellent agreement with that obtained using standard X-ray data collection techniques. With further improvements the method is well suited for even shorter exposures at future and upgraded synchrotron radiation facilities that may deliver beams with 1000 times higher brightness than they currently produce.
serial crystallography; room-temperature protein crystallography; radiation damage; CrystFEL; microfocus beamline
The instrumentation and methods available for collecting almost simultaneous single-crystal electronic absorption correlated with X-ray diffraction data at NSLS beamline X26-C are reviewed, as well as a very brief outline of its Raman spectroscopy capability.
The research philosophy and new capabilities installed at NSLS beamline X26-C to support electronic absorption and Raman spectroscopies coupled with X-ray diffraction are reviewed. This beamline is dedicated full time to multidisciplinary studies with goals that include revealing the relationship between the electronic and atomic structures in macromolecules. The beamline instrumentation has been fully integrated such that optical absorption spectra and X-ray diffraction images are interlaced. Therefore, optical changes induced by X-ray exposure can be correlated with X-ray diffraction data collection. The installation of Raman spectroscopy into the beamline is also briefly reviewed. Data are now routinely generated almost simultaneously from three complementary types of experiments from the same sample. The beamline is available now to the NSLS general user population.
metalloenzymes; cofactors; electronic absorption spectroscopy; Raman spectroscopy
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 advantages of a novel wide dynamic range hard X-ray detector are demonstrated for (ptychographic) coherent X-ray diffractive imaging.
Coherent (X-ray) diffractive imaging (CDI) is an increasingly popular form of X-ray microscopy, mainly due to its potential to produce high-resolution images and the lack of an objective lens between the sample and its corresponding imaging detector. One challenge, however, is that very high dynamic range diffraction data must be collected to produce both quantitative and high-resolution images. In this work, hard X-ray ptychographic coherent diffractive imaging has been performed at the P10 beamline of the PETRA III synchrotron to demonstrate the potential of a very wide dynamic range imaging X-ray detector (the Mixed-Mode Pixel Array Detector, or MM-PAD). The detector is capable of single photon detection, detecting fluxes exceeding 1 × 108 8-keV photons pixel−1 s−1, and framing at 1 kHz. A ptychographic reconstruction was performed using a peak focal intensity on the order of 1 × 1010 photons µm−2 s−1 within an area of approximately 325 nm × 603 nm. This was done without need of a beam stop and with a very modest attenuation, while ‘still’ images of the empty beam far-field intensity were recorded without any attenuation. The treatment of the detector frames and CDI methodology for reconstruction of non-sensitive detector regions, partially also extending the active detector area, are described.
pixel array detectors; coherent X-ray diffractive imaging; ptychography
A mail-in data collection system at SPring-8, which is a web application with automated beamline operation, has been developed.
A mail-in data collection system makes it possible for beamline users to collect diffraction data without visiting a synchrotron facility. In the mail-in data collection system at SPring-8, users pack crystals into sample trays and send the trays to SPring-8 via a courier service as the first step. Next, the user specifies measurement conditions and checks the diffraction images via the Internet. The user can also collect diffraction data using an automated sample changer robot and beamline control software. For distant users there is a newly developed data management system, D-Cha. D-Cha provides a graphical user interface that enables the user to specify the experimental conditions for samples and to check and download the diffraction images using a web browser. This system is now in routine operation and is contributing to high-throughput beamline operation.
mail-in data collection; high-throughput data collection; beamline automation; web application; database system
The Protein Crystallography Station user facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory not only offers open access to a high-performance neutron beamline, but also actively supports and develops new methods in protein expression, deuteration, purification, robotic crystallization and the synthesis of substrates with stable isotopes and provides assistance with data-reduction and structure-refinement software and comprehensive neutron structure analysis.
The Protein Crystallography Station (PCS) at Los Alamos Neutron Science Center is a high-performance beamline that forms the core of a capability for neutron macromolecular structure and function determination. Neutron diffraction is a powerful technique for locating H atoms and can therefore provide unique information about how biological macromolecules function and interact with each other and smaller molecules. Users of the PCS have access to neutron beam time, deuteration facilities, the expression of proteins and the synthesis of substrates with stable isotopes and also support for data reduction and structure analysis. The beamline exploits the pulsed nature of spallation neutrons and a large electronic detector in order to collect wavelength-resolved Laue patterns using all available neutrons in the white beam. The PCS user facility is described and highlights from the user program are presented.
Protein Crystallography Station; neutron macromolecular crystallography; spallation neutron sources; deuteration; user support
The ultimate goal of synchrotron data collection is to obtain the best possible data from the best available crystals, and the combination of automation and remote access at Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) has revolutionized the way in which scientists achieve this goal. This has also seen a change in the way novice crystallographers are trained in the use of the beamlines, and a wide range of remote tools and hands-on workshops are now offered by SSRL to facilitate the education of the next generation of protein crystallographers.
For the past five years, the Structural Molecular Biology group at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) has provided general users of the facility with fully remote access to the macromolecular crystallography beamlines. This was made possible by implementing fully automated beamlines with a flexible control system and an intuitive user interface, and by the development of the robust and efficient Stanford automated mounting robotic sample-changing system. The ability to control a synchrotron beamline remotely from the comfort of the home laboratory has set a new paradigm for the collection of high-quality X-ray diffraction data and has fostered new collaborative research, whereby a number of remote users from different institutions can be connected at the same time to the SSRL beamlines. The use of remote access has revolutionized the way in which scientists interact with synchrotron beamlines and collect diffraction data, and has also triggered a shift in the way crystallography students are introduced to synchrotron data collection and trained in the best methods for collecting high-quality data. SSRL provides expert crystallographic and engineering staff, state-of-the-art crystallography beamlines, and a number of accessible tools to facilitate data collection and in-house remote training, and encourages the use of these facilities for education, training, outreach and collaborative research.
protein crystallography; high-throughput screening; robotics; remote access; crystallographic education and training; outreach
Covalent labeling of macromolecules with trace levels (<1%) of a fluorescent dye is proposed as a means to facilitate finding or detecting crystals in crystallization drops. To test the effects of labeled protein concentration on the resulting X-ray diffraction data, experiments were carried out with the model proteins insulin, ribonuclease, lysozyme and thaumatin, which were labeled with the fluorescent dye carboxyrhodamine. All proteins were labeled on their N-terminal amine and lysozyme was also labeled randomly on lysine side chains in a separate series of experiments. Ribonuclease and N-terminal amine-labeled lysozyme crystals were poorly formed at 10% label concentration and these were not used in subsequent diffraction experiments. All model proteins were tested to 5% labeled protein, and thaumatin and randomly labeled lysozyme gave well formed crystals to 10% labeled protein. In all cases tested, the presence of the label was found to not significantly affect the X-ray diffraction data quality obtained. Qualitative visual-inspection experiments over a range of label concentrations indicated that optimum derivatization levels ranged from 0.025–0.05% for insulin to 0.1–0.25% for thaumatin. Light intensity is a simpler search parameter than straight lines and by virtue of being the most densely packed phase, labeled crystals should be the most intense light sources under fluorescent illumination. For both visual and automated methods of crystal detection, label intensity is a simpler and potentially more powerful search parameter. Screening experiments using the proteins canavalin, -lactoglobulins A and B and chymotrypsinogen, all at 0.5% label concentration, demonstrated the utility of this approach to rapidly finding crystals, even when obscured by precipitate. The use of trace-labeled protein is also proposed to be useful for the automated centering of crystals in X-ray beamlines.
Macromolecular-crystallography (MX) beamlines routinely provide a possibility to change X-ray beam energy, focus the beam to a size of tens of microns, align a sample on a microdiffractometer using on-axis video microscope, and collect data with an area-detector positioned in three dimensions. These capabilities allow for running complementary measurements of small-angle X-ray scattering and diffraction (SAXS) at the same beamline with such additions to the standard MX setup as a vacuum path between the sample and the detector, a modified beam stop, and a custom sample cell. On the 21-ID-D MX beamline at the Advanced Photon Source we attach a vacuum flight tube to the area detector support and use the support motion for aligning a beam stop built into the rear end of the flight tube. At 8 KeV energy and 1 m sample-to-detector distance we can achieve a small-angle resolution of 0.01A−1 in the reciprocal space. Measuring SAXS with this setup, we have studied phase diagrams of lipidic mesophases used as matrices for membrane-protein crystallization. The outcome of crystallization trials is significantly affected by the structure of the lipidic mesophases, which is determined by the composition of the crystallization mixture. We use a microfluidic chip for the mesophase formulation and in situ SAXS data collection. Using the MX beamline and the microfluidic platform we have demonstrated the viability of the high-throughput SAXS studies facilitating screening of lipidic matrices for membrane-protein crystallization.
Typical topics and problems encountered during data processing of diffraction experiments are discussed and the tools provided in the autoPROC software are described.
A typical diffraction experiment will generate many images and data sets from different crystals in a very short time. This creates a challenge for the high-throughput operation of modern synchrotron beamlines as well as for the subsequent data processing. Novice users in particular may feel overwhelmed by the tables, plots and numbers that the different data-processing programs and software packages present to them. Here, some of the more common problems that a user has to deal with when processing a set of images that will finally make up a processed data set are shown, concentrating on difficulties that may often show up during the first steps along the path of turning the experiment (i.e. data collection) into a model (i.e. interpreted electron density). Difficulties such as unexpected crystal forms, issues in crystal handling and suboptimal choices of data-collection strategies can often be dealt with, or at least diagnosed, by analysing specific data characteristics during processing. In the end, one wants to distinguish problems over which one has no immediate control once the experiment is finished from problems that can be remedied a posteriori. A new software package, autoPROC, is also presented that combines third-party processing programs with new tools and an automated workflow script that is intended to provide users with both guidance and insight into the offline processing of data affected by the difficulties mentioned above, with particular emphasis on the automated treatment of multi-sweep data sets collected on multi-axis goniostats.
autoPROC; data processing
Expressions are given to match X-ray data collection facilities to the intrinsic diffraction properties of crystals with different degrees of perfection.
An analysis is given of the effect of different beam and detector parameters on the sharpness of recorded diffraction features for macromolecular crystals of different quality. The crystal quality parameters include crystal strain, crystal or mosaic block size and mosaic block misorientation. Calculations are given for instrument parameters such as angular resolution of the detector, beam divergence and wavelength bandpass to be matched to the intrinsic diffraction properties from these crystals with the aim of obtaining the best possible data out of each crystal. Examples are given using typical crystal imperfections obtained from the literature for both room-temperature and cryo-cooled crystals. Possible implications for the choice of X-ray source, beamline design, detector specifications, instrument set-up and data processing are discussed, together with the limitations of the approach.
crystal perfection; synchrotron beam properties; detectors
The 19ID undulator beamline of the Structure Biology Center has been designed and built to take full advantage of the high flux, brilliance and quality of X-ray beams delivered by the Advanced Photon Source. The beamline optics are capable of delivering monochromatic X-rays with photon energies from 3.5 to 20 keV (3.5–0.6 Å wavelength) with fluxes up to 8–18 × 1012 photons s−1 (depending on photon energy) onto cryogenically cooled crystal samples. The size of the beam (full width at half-maximum) at the sample position can be varied from 2.2 mm × 1.0 mm (horizontal × vertical, unfocused) to 0.083 mm × 0.020 mm in its fully focused configuration. Specimen-to-detector distances of between 100 mm and 1500 mm can be used. The high flexibility, inherent in the design of the optics, coupled with a κ-geometry goniometer and beamline control software allows optimal strategies to be adopted in protein crystallographic experiments, thus maximizing the chances of their success. A large-area mosaic 3 × 3 CCD detector allows high-quality diffraction data to be measured rapidly to the crystal diffraction limits. The beamline layout and the X-ray optical and endstation components are described in detail, and the results of representative crystallographic experiments are presented.
X-ray beamline; protein crystallography; MAD/SAD; X-ray optics
The X-CHIP (X-ray Crystallography High-throughput Integrated Platform) is a novel microchip that has been developed to combine multiple steps of the crystallographic pipeline from crystallization to diffraction data collection on a single device to streamline the entire process.
The X-CHIP (X-ray Crystallization High-throughput Integrated Platform) is a novel microchip that has been developed to combine multiple steps of the crystallographic pipeline from crystallization to diffraction data collection on a single device to streamline the entire process. The system has been designed for crystallization condition screening, visual crystal inspection, initial X-ray screening and data collection in a high-throughput fashion. X-ray diffraction data acquisition can be performed directly on-the-chip at room temperature using an in situ approach. The capabilities of the chip eliminate the necessity for manual crystal handling and cryoprotection of crystal samples, while allowing data collection from multiple crystals in the same drop. This technology would be especially beneficial for projects with large volumes of data, such as protein-complex studies and fragment-based screening. The platform employs hydrophilic and hydrophobic concentric ring surfaces on a miniature plate transparent to visible light and X-rays to create a well defined and stable microbatch crystallization environment. The results of crystallization and data-collection experiments demonstrate that high-quality well diffracting crystals can be grown and high-resolution diffraction data sets can be collected using this technology. Furthermore, the quality of a single-wavelength anomalous dispersion data set collected with the X-CHIP at room temperature was sufficient to generate interpretable electron-density maps. This technology is highly resource-efficient owing to the use of nanolitre-scale drop volumes. It does not require any modification for most in-house and synchrotron beamline systems and offers a promising opportunity for full automation of the X-ray structure-determination process.
protein crystallization devices; in situ X-ray analysis; crystallization; crystal visual inspection; diffraction data collection
The Hard X-ray Nanoprobe Beamline is a precision platform for scanning probe and full-field microscopy with 3–30 keV X-rays. A combination of high-stability X-ray optics and precision motion sensing and control enables detailed studies of the internal features of samples with resolutions approaching 30 nm.
The Hard X-ray Nanoprobe Beamline (or Nanoprobe Beamline) is an X-ray microscopy facility incorporating diffraction, fluorescence and full-field imaging capabilities designed and operated by the Center for Nanoscale Materials and the Advanced Photon Source at Sector 26 of the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory. This facility was constructed to probe the nanoscale structure of biological, environmental and material sciences samples. The beamline provides intense focused X-rays to the Hard X-ray Nanoprobe (or Nanoprobe) which incorporates Fresnel zone plate optics and a precision laser sensing and control system. The beamline operates over X-ray energies from 3 to 30 keV, enabling studies of most elements in the periodic table, with a particular emphasis on imaging transition metals.
X-ray nanoprobe; X-ray microscopy; zone plate; X-ray fluorescence; nanodiffraction; nanotomography
A shutterless continuous rotation method using an X-ray complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) detector has been developed for high-speed, precise data collection in protein crystallography. The new method and detector were applied to the structure determination of three proteins by multi- and single-wavelength anomalous diffraction phasing and have thereby been proved to be applicable in protein crystallography.
A new shutterless continuous rotation method using an X-ray complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) detector has been developed for high-speed, precise data collection in protein crystallography. The principle of operation and the basic performance of the X-ray CMOS detector (Hamamatsu Photonics KK C10158DK) have been shown to be appropriate to the shutterless continuous rotation method. The data quality of the continuous rotation method is comparable to that of the conventional oscillation method using a CCD detector and, furthermore, the combination with fine ϕ slicing improves the data accuracy without increasing the data-collection time. The new method is more sensitive to diffraction intensity because of the narrow dynamic range of the CMOS detector. However, the strong diffraction spots were found to be precisely measured by recording them on successive multiple images by selecting an adequate rotation step. The new method has been used to successfully determine three protein structures by multi- and single-wavelength anomalous diffraction phasing and has thereby been proved applicable in protein crystallography. The apparatus and method may become a powerful tool at synchrotron protein crystallography beamlines with important potential across a wide range of X-ray wavelengths.
protein crystallography; shutterless continuous rotation method; X-ray CMOS detectors; X-ray wavelength capabilities
Optical trapping has successfully been applied to select and mount microcrystals for subsequent X-ray diffraction experiments.
X-ray crystallography is the method of choice to deduce atomic resolution structural information from macromolecules. In recent years, significant investments in structural genomics initiatives have been undertaken to automate all steps in X-ray crystallography from protein expression to structure solution. Robotic systems are widely used to prepare crystallization screens and change samples on synchrotron beamlines for macromolecular crystallography. The only remaining manual handling step is the transfer of the crystal from the mother liquor onto the crystal holder. Manual mounting is relatively straightforward for crystals with dimensions of >25 µm; however, this step is nontrivial for smaller crystals. The mounting of microcrystals is becoming increasingly important as advances in microfocus synchrotron beamlines now allow data collection from crystals with dimensions of only a few micrometres. To make optimal usage of these beamlines, new approaches have to be taken to facilitate and automate this last manual handling step. Optical tweezers, which are routinely used for the manipulation of micrometre-sized objects, have successfully been applied to sort and mount macromolecular crystals on newly designed crystal holders. Diffraction data from CPV type 1 polyhedrin microcrystals mounted with laser tweezers are presented.
laser tweezers; optical trapping; microcrystals; crystal manipulation; sample holders
New software has been developed for automating the experimental and data-processing stages of fragment-based drug discovery at a macromolecular crystallography beamline. A new workflow-automation framework orchestrates beamline-control and data-analysis software while organizing results from multiple samples.
AutoDrug is software based upon the scientific workflow paradigm that integrates the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource macromolecular crystallography beamlines and third-party processing software to automate the crystallography steps of the fragment-based drug-discovery process. AutoDrug screens a cassette of fragment-soaked crystals, selects crystals for data collection based on screening results and user-specified criteria and determines optimal data-collection strategies. It then collects and processes diffraction data, performs molecular replacement using provided models and detects electron density that is likely to arise from bound fragments. All processes are fully automated, i.e. are performed without user interaction or supervision. Samples can be screened in groups corresponding to particular proteins, crystal forms and/or soaking conditions. A single AutoDrug run is only limited by the capacity of the sample-storage dewar at the beamline: currently 288 samples. AutoDrug was developed in conjunction with RestFlow, a new scientific workflow-automation framework. RestFlow simplifies the design of AutoDrug by managing the flow of data and the organization of results and by orchestrating the execution of computational pipeline steps. It also simplifies the execution and interaction of third-party programs and the beamline-control system. Modeling AutoDrug as a scientific workflow enables multiple variants that meet the requirements of different user groups to be developed and supported. A workflow tailored to mimic the crystallography stages comprising the drug-discovery pipeline of CoCrystal Discovery Inc. has been deployed and successfully demonstrated. This workflow was run once on the same 96 samples that the group had examined manually and the workflow cycled successfully through all of the samples, collected data from the same samples that were selected manually and located the same peaks of unmodeled density in the resulting difference Fourier maps.
AutoDrug; fragment-based drug discovery; workflow automation
The Computational Crystallography Toolbox (cctbx) is a flexible software platform that has been used to develop high-throughput crystal-screening tools for both synchrotron sources and X-ray free-electron lasers. Plans for data-processing and visualization applications are discussed, and the benefits and limitations of using graphics-processing units are evaluated.
Current pixel-array detectors produce diffraction images at extreme data rates (of up to 2 TB h−1) that make severe demands on computational resources. New multiprocessing frameworks are required to achieve rapid data analysis, as it is important to be able to inspect the data quickly in order to guide the experiment in real time. By utilizing readily available web-serving tools that interact with the Python scripting language, it was possible to implement a high-throughput Bragg-spot analyzer (cctbx.spotfinder) that is presently in use at numerous synchrotron-radiation beamlines. Similarly, Python interoperability enabled the production of a new data-reduction package (cctbx.xfel) for serial femtosecond crystallography experiments at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS). Future data-reduction efforts will need to focus on specialized problems such as the treatment of diffraction spots on interleaved lattices arising from multi-crystal specimens. In these challenging cases, accurate modeling of close-lying Bragg spots could benefit from the high-performance computing capabilities of graphics-processing units.
data processing; reusable code; multiprocessing; cctbx