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 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
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 restriction factor Bst2/tetherin contains two membrane anchors which are employed to retain some enveloped viruses including HIV-1 tethered to the plasma membrane in the absence of virus encoded antagonists. The 2.77 Å crystal structure of the extracellular core presented here reveals a parallel 90 Å long disulfide linked coiled-coil domain while the complete extracellular domain forms an extended 170 Å long rod-like structure based on small angle X-ray scattering data. Mutagenesis analyses indicate that both the coiled-coil and the N-terminal region are required for retention of HIV-1, suggesting that the elongated structure can function as a molecular ruler to bridge long distances. The structure reveals substantial irregularities and instabilities throughout the coiled-coil, which contribute to its low stability in the absence of disulfide bonds. We propose that the irregular coiled-coil provides conformational flexibility and ensures that Bst2/tetherin anchoring in the plasma and the newly formed virus membrane do not interfere with budding.
A rapid, easy-to-perform translation calibration procedure has been developed for use with the EMBL/ESRF mini-κ goniometer head and for other inverse-kappa goniometers designed for macromolecular crystallography. Regular calibration ensures the precision of experiments that rely on many degrees of freedom in crystal reorientation.
Precise and convenient crystal reorientation is of experimental importance in macromolecular crystallography (MX). The development of multi-axis goniometers, such as the ESRF/EMBL mini-κ, necessitates the corresponding development of calibration procedures that can be used for the setup, maintenance and troubleshooting of such devices. While traditional multi-axis goniometers require all rotation axes to intersect the unique point of the sample position, recently developed miniaturized instruments for sample reorientation in MX are not as restricted. However, the samples must always be re-centred following a change in orientation. To overcome this inconvenience and allow the use of multi-axis goniometers without the fundamental restriction of having all axes intersecting in the same point, an automatic translation correction protocol has been developed for such instruments. It requires precise information about the direction and location of the rotation axes. To measure and supply this information, a general, easy-to-perform translation calibration (TC) procedure has also been developed. The TC procedure is routinely performed on most MX beamlines at the ESRF and some results are presented for reference.
kappa goniometer; macromolecular crystallography; reorientation; calibration
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 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
Robo1 is a large transmembrane receptor expressed on the axon growth cone. Activation of Robo1 by Slit proteins results in axon repulsion from the midline. Here, the purification and crystallization conditions of first two Ig domains of Robo1 are reported.
Activation of Roundabout 1 (Robo1) by Slit proteins results in axon repulsion from the midline. Robo1 is a large transmembrane receptor expressed on the axon growth cone and the minimal Robo1-binding region required for Slit activation has been mapped to the N-terminal Ig1–2 domains. The cDNA encoding the first two Ig domains of Robo1 has been cloned and the protein has been expressed in HEK293 EBNA-1 mammalian cells. Here, the purification and crystallization conditions of this Robo1 construct are reported. The crystals are orthorhombic, space group P21212, with unit-cell parameters a = 38.8, b = 69.4, c = 103.3 Å and one molecule in the asymmetric unit. X-ray diffraction data have been collected to 2.8 Å resolution on beamline ID29 at the ESRF.
Roundabout; Slit; mammalian expression
Slit proteins are secreted ligands that interact with the Roundabout (Robo) receptors to provide important guidance cues in neuronal and vascular development. Slit–Robo signalling is mediated by an interaction between the second Slit domain and the first Robo domain, as well as being dependent on heparan sulphate. In an effort to understand the role of the other Slit domains in signalling, we determined the crystal structure of the fourth Slit2 domain (D4) and examined the effects of various Slit2 constructs on chick retinal ganglion cell axons. Slit2 D4 forms a homodimer using the conserved residues on its concave face, and can also bind to heparan sulphate. We observed that Slit2 D4 frequently results in growth cones with collapsed lamellipodia and that this effect can be inhibited by exogenously added heparan sulphate. Our results show that Slit2 D4–heparan sulphate binding contributes to a Slit–Robo signalling mechanism more intricate than previously thought.
neurons; guidance cues; signalling
The genes encoding XMT and DXMT, the enzymes from Coffea canephora (robusta) that catalyse the three independent N-methyl transfer reactions in the caffeine-biosynthesis pathway, have been cloned and the proteins have been expressed in Escherichia coli. Both proteins have been crystallized in the presence of the demethylated cofactor S-adenosyl-l-cysteine (SAH) and substrate (xanthosine for XMT and theobromine for DXMT).
Caffeine is a secondary metabolite produced by a variety of plants including Coffea canephora (robusta) and there is growing evidence that caffeine is part of a chemical defence strategy protecting young leaves and seeds from potential predators. The genes encoding XMT and DXMT, the enzymes from Coffea canephora (robusta) that catalyse the three independent N-methyl transfer reactions in the caffeine-biosynthesis pathway, have been cloned and the proteins have been expressed in Escherichia coli. Both proteins have been crystallized in the presence of the demethylated cofactor S-adenosyl-l-cysteine (SAH) and substrate (xanthosine for XMT and theobromine for DXMT). The crystals are orthorhombic, with space group P212121 for XMT and C2221 for DXMT. X-ray diffraction to 2.8 Å for XMT and to 2.5 Å for DXMT have been collected on beamline ID23-1 at the ESRF.
caffeine; SAM; N-methyltransferases