Synchrotron-based Macromolecular Crystallography

Synchrotron-based macromolecular crystallography is one of the most important techniques to uncover the details of molecular structure at an atomic level. The Case Center for Synchrotron Biosciences (CSB) has unique resources for macromolecular structure analysis at the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS), Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. Two state-of-the-art beamlines operated by the CSB at the NSLS (X29 Mini-Gap Undulator and X3A Bending Magnet) are dedicated to MAD/SAD macromolecular crystallography. The X3A bending magnet beamline was built in 1999 in a partnership with top biomedical institutes including Rockefeller University, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute in order to provide an X-ray diffraction data collection facility for Structural Biology Consortium in New York area. In 2004, X29 undulator beamline was built in collaboration with National Synchrotron Light Source and PXRR of Brookhaven National Laboratory to facilitate high-throughput X-ray data collection technologies required by most users, particularly those who are involved in structural genomics projects as well as users requiring high brightness radiation for small or poorly diffracting crystals.

The important properties of X-rays generated by synchrotrons are the high intensity and the tunability of the wavelength, which are essential for routine protein structure determination. Both CSB crystallography beamlines are easily tunable from the longer wavelengths near the iron edge (7 keV) to beyond the bromine edge (13.5 keV). CSB follows a multi-mode model for scientific research and discovery at these beamlines. Firstly, CSB is involved in advanced beamline instrumentation development for macromolecular crystallography. Secondly, CSB beamline scientists collaborate with a number of outside scientific research groups to determine novel crystal structures of proteins with biomedical interest. Finally, CSB provides comprehensive beamtime services and training for its academic and corporate partners as well as general users through an NSLS-based mechanism of access on the basis of peer-reviewed beamtime proposals.