November 24, 2013
Press Office Contact: Andy Freeberg, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory: firstname.lastname@example.org, (650) 926-4359
A study shows for the first time that X-ray lasers can be used to generate a complete 3-D model of a protein without any prior knowledge of its structure.
This 3-D rendering of a lysozyme molecule shows two gadolinium atoms bound to it. Researchers soaked lysozyme crystals in a solution containing the metal gadolinium to help improve imaging quality in an experiment at SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source X-ray laser. The experiment proved that LCLS can resolve the lysozyme structure without using data obtained earlier, and researchers hope to use similar techniques to reconstruct important unsolved proteins. (Max Planck Society)
An international team of researchers working at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory produced from scratch an accurate model of lysozyme, a well-studied enzyme found in egg whites, using the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser and sophisticated computer analysis tools.
In crystallography experiments at the Coherent X-ray Imaging experimental station at LCLS, a liquid jet delivers nanoscale crystals into this chamber, where X-ray laser pulses strike them. (Brad Plummer/SLAC)
The experiment proves that X-ray lasers can play a leading role in studying important biomolecules of unknown structure. The special attributes of LCLS, which allow the study of very small crystals, could cement its role in hunting down many important biological structures that have so far remained out of reach because they form crystals too small for analysis with conventional X-ray sources.
“Determining protein structures using X-ray lasers requires averaging a gigantic amount of data to get a sufficiently accurate signal, and people wondered if this really could be done,” said Thomas Barends, a staff scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Germany who participated in the research. “Now we have experimental evidence. This really opens the door to new discoveries.”
Thomas Barends, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research: Thomas.Barends@mpimf-heidelberg.mpg.de
Ilme Schlichting, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research: Ilme.Schlichting@mpimf-heidelberg.mpg.de
Sebastien Boutet, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory: email@example.com
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SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.
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