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The Diamond Light Source and the challenges ahead for structural biology: some informal remarks

DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2013.0156 DOI Help
PMID: 25624524 PMID Help

Authors: V. Ramakrishnan (MRC)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Journal Paper
Journal: Philosophical Transactions Of The Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical And Engineering Sciences , VOL 373 (2036) , PAGES 20130156 - 20130156

State: Published (Approved)
Published: January 2015

Abstract: The remarkable advances in structural biology in the past three decades have led to the determination of increasingly complex structures that lie at the heart of many important biological processes. Many of these advances have been made possible by the use of X-ray crystallography using synchrotron radiation. In this short article, some of the challenges and prospects that lie ahead will be summarized. The first crystal structures of macromolecules were determined about half a century ago by Perutz, Kendrew and their colleagues. Even after the realization that isomorphous replacement could yield phase information for protein crystals [1], it still took another decade to obtain the first atomic structures. Although better computing and the advent of area detectors improved the situation considerably over the next two decades, macromolecular crystallography remained a multiyear effort. However, beginning around 1980, the situation began to change dramatically. The idea that synchrotron radiation, normally a ‘waste product’ for high-energy physicists, could be used to produce very high-intensity beams for diffraction studies had led to the construction of several beamlines designed for macromolecular crystallography, beginning with the one at DESY in Hamburg [2]. High-intensity beams led to significantly higher radiation damage. Such damage was greatly minimized by the advent of cryo-crystallography, involving data collection below 100 K [3]. The use of cryo-crystallography with accurate image plate detectors that could scan in situ [4,5] meant that often a complete dataset could be collected from a single crystal in an automated manner and without interruption.

Journal Keywords: Synchrotron Radiation; Macromolecular Crystallography; Structural Biology

Subject Areas: Biology and Bio-materials

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Added On: 23/11/2015 15:39

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