X-ray diffraction in temporally and spatially resolved biomolecular science

J R Helliwell, Alice Brink, Simon W M Tanley, Surasak Kaenket, Victoria-Laurina Starkey

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Time-resolved Laue protein crystallography at the ESRF opened up the field of sub-nanosecond protein crystal structure analyses. There are a limited number of such time-resolved studies in the literature. Why is this? The X-ray laser now gives us femtosecond (fs) duration pulses, typically 10 fs up to ~50 fs. Their use is attractive for the fastest time-resolved protein crystallography studies. It has been proposed that single molecules could even be studied with the clear advantage of being able to measure X-ray diffraction from a single molecule, with or without temporal resolved structural changes. This is altogether very challenging R&D. So as to assist this effort we have undertaken studies of metal clusters that bind to proteins. These have the major advantage of being very recognisable shapes (octahedral and pseudo spherical) and thereby offer a start to (probably very difficult) single molecule electron density map interpretations, both static and dynamic. A further approach is to investigate the X-ray laser beam diffraction strength of a well scattering nano-cluster; an example from Nature being the iron containing ferritin. Electron crystallography and single particle electron microscopy imaging offers alternatives to X-ray structural studies; our structural studies of crustacyanin, a 320 kDa protein carotenoid complex, can be extended either by electron based techniques or with the X-ray laser representing a fascinating range of options. General outlook remarks concerning X-ray, electron and neutron macromolecular crystallography as well as ‘NMR crystallography’ conclude the article.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalFaraday Discussions
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    Dive into the research topics of 'X-ray diffraction in temporally and spatially resolved biomolecular science'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this