Meeting report

AsCA 2012/Crystal 28

Basic and applied crystallography, alive and well down under

Adelaide, Australia, December 2012

[AsCA 2012 logo] [SCANZ logo] [AsCA logo]
[Attendees] Attendees leaving the closing session.

The reports at the 2012 joint meeting of the Asian Crystallographic Association (AsCA) and Society of Crystallographers in Australia and New Zealand (SCANZ) provided structural data on the hottest and fastest moving areas of biological and materials science as well as technical advances that promise to keep crystallographic research at the cutting edge of science for years to come. Throughout the meeting three simultaneous sessions were held on broad topics that could be characterized as macromolecular, materials and technology. In each of these areas there were topics that had emerged in the last ten years to dominate much of the field: nanoscale, self assembly, in situ, high throughput, and dynamics. The opening ceremony featured a presentation on SAD Analysis of Macromolecular Structure by Wayne Hendrickson.

The first day of the meeting began with a plenary lecture by Henry Chapman (CFEL DESY) on protein nano-crystallography using X-ray laser pulses. The technique involves a remarkable new way to prepare and deliver samples, and to gather, record and analyze data. The development of this powerful new technique has required the creativity, ingenuity and cooperation of dozens of talented scientists. The electron laser has a million times more photons in a single burst than traditional radiation and the new technique makes it possible to reap the benefits of the increased power before the radiation destroys the sample. This was followed by parallel sessions on biological structures, metallo-organics and diffraction physics.

[MS1 speakers] Speakers in session MS1, Hot structures in biology.
[MS3 speakers] Speakers in session MS3, Diffraction physics and applications of crystallography.

Hot structures in biology included histone chaparones (R. Xu, Chinese Academy of Science), a respiratory complex (L. Sazanov, MRC), clathrin-meadiated endocytosis (D. Owen, U. Cambridge), nuclear receptors (E. Xu, Van Andel Research Inst.) and a signal recognition receptor complex (S. F. Ataide, U. Sydney). Metallo-organic structures covered polymeric networks (J. J. Vital, U. Singapore) and coordination compounds (D. Turner, Monash U.), porous molecular solids (C. Doonan, U. Adelaide), metal-adenine complexes (Y. Patil, Indian Inst. of Science), anion binding cages (J. Clegg, U. Queensland) and cyano anions as molecular building blocks (S. Batten, Monash U.). Topics in diffraction physics included dynamical diffraction from a curved crystal resonator (S.-L. Chang, NSRRC), electrostatic potential visualization via synchrotron radiation (M. Takata, Spring-8), a nanofabricated holographic grating (M. Uchida, Saitama Inst. Tech.), electronic field effect on atomic and electronic structure (A. Johnson, U. Western Australia), a new neutron diffractometer at J-PARC (T. Ishigaki, Ibaraki U.), and the battle of signal versus noise (J. Holton, U. California).

[MS6 speakers] Speakers in session MS6, Synchrotron and neutron sources, instrumentation and application. Front: Kazuhisa Kakurai, Kia Wallwork, Shin Ae Kim, Masao Yonemura. Back: Garry McInytre (Co-Chair), Pawel Grochulski, Claude Lecomte.

The afternoon had simultaneous sessions on membrane proteins, non-ambient and in situ studies, and synchrotron and neutron instrumentation and applications. Ten years ago the determination of the structures of integral membrane proteins was considered unachievable. Now entire sessions are devoted to them. The membrane protein session covered genomics approaches (W. Hendrickson, Columbia U.), crystallization with antibody fragments (T. Murata, Chiba U.), electron crystallographic investigations (A. Mitra, U. Auckland), overlapping binding sites of water and lipids (M. Maher, La Trobe U.), and H+-translocating pyrophosphatase (Y.J. Sun, Tsing Hua U.). Non-ambient studies included high-pressure studies of minerals (A. Sano, Japan Atomic Energy), 1-D magnetic materials (J.-J. Lee, NSRC) and transformations in highly compressible crystals (S. Duyker, ANSTO). Hydrogen storage materials (E. Gray, Griffith U.) and steel corrosion (B. Ingham, Industrial Research Ltd.) were the focus of in situ studies. The instrumentation session had talks on a powder neutron diffractometer (M. Yonemura, KEK), polarized neutrons (K. Kakuri, Japan Atomic Energy), a neutron image-plate detector (S. A. Kim, Korea Atomic Energy Research Inst.), developments at Canadian (P. Grochulski, Canadian Light Source) and Australian (K. Wallwork, Australian Synchrotron Co. Ltd) synchrotron sites, and spin-dependant electron-density analysis using X-ray and polarized neutron data.

[MS8 speakers] Speakers in MS8, Energy-related materials. Front: Myung Hyun Paik Suh (Co-chair), Jacqueline Cole, Denissa Murphy, Hongcai Zhou. Back: Chris Ling, Vanessa Peterson, Davide Viterbo, Stefan Adams.

The keynote lectures on the second day concerned a killer cell receptor (J. Vivian, Monash U.) and solid-solution studies using atomic probe microscopy (S. Ringer, U. Sydney). The morning's simultaneous sessions were on drug discovery, energy-related materials and molecular dynamics in solid-state crystals. The drug-discovery session covered inhibitors of kinases (S. Jacob, Novartis), phosphodiesterases (J. Pandit, Pfizer), BHRF1 (S. Caria, Le Trobe U.) and c-JNK (D. P. Karothu, Indian Inst. of Science), and the mechanism of action of an antibody to BACE1. Pandit discussed specific inhibitors for two phosphodiesterases (from a total of 60 in the central nervous system) that are associated with psychosis. BACE1 inhibitors may reverse, delay or prevent Alzheimer's disease. Topics on energy-related materials included metal-organic frameworks (H. Zhou, Texas A&M), lithium ion conductors (S. Adams, National U. Singapore), incommensurate modulated structures (C. Ling, U. Sydney), solar cooling applications (D. Viterbo, U. Piemonte Orientale) and dye-sensitized solar cells (J. Cole, U. Cambridge). The session on dynamic aspects of crystallography included studies of picosecond lattice and charge dynamics (Y. Moritomo, U. Tsukuba), dynamic disorder and fuel cells (J. Gale, Curtin U.), phonon softening (A. Baron, Spring-8), and phase transitions in pharmaceuticals (H. Uekusa, Tokyo Inst. of Technology) and lanthanide pyrochlore-florites (P. Blanchard, U. Sydney). Concurrent sessions in the afternoon concerned macromolecular assemblies, chemical crystallography, and structural proteomics and genomics. The session on macromolecular assemblies included talks on three types of viruses, insect pox virus (F. Coulibaly, Monash U.), hemorrhagic fever virus (Z. Lou, Tsinghua U.) and orf virus (K. Krause, U. Otago), as well as DNA-protein complexes (X.-D. Su, Peking U.) and domain swapping in a survival protein (Y. K. Mathiharan, Indian Inst. of Science). Chemical crystallography addressed mesoporous inorganic frameworks (S.-L. Wang, Tsing Hua U.), in situ control of photochromism (A. Sekine, Tokyo Inst. of Technology), the structure correlation principle applied to Diels-Alder reactions (J. White, U. Melborne), accurate chemical characterization (A. Edwards, ANSTO) and crystal packing predictions (G. Gainsford, Industrial Research Ltd.). Proteomic/genomics talks concerned mobile gene elements (B. Mabbut, Macquarie U.), autophagic molecules (H. K. Song, Korea U.), protein-protein interfaces (P. Chakrabarti, Bose Inst.), protein crystallogenesis (J. Newman, CSIRO) and de novo models for ab initio phasing (K. Zhang, RIKEN).

[MS7 speakers] Speakers in Session MS7, Enzymes.
[MS14 speakers] Speakers in Session MS14, Small-Angle Scattering. Front: Angela Criswell, Charlotte Conn (Co-chair), Kevin Jack. Back: Patrick Kluth, Anthony Duff, Andrew Whitten.

The keynote lectures on the third day concerned optoelectronic applications of in situ photo-crystallography (J. Cole, U. Cambridge), and polar nanoregions and diffuse scattering in ferroelectrics (R. Welberry, Australian Nat. U.). The last morning featured simultaneous sessions on enzymes, small-angle scattering (SAXS), and crystal growth and engineering. Enzymes studied included phosphagen kinases (S. Ye, Chinese Academy of Science), full-length human plasminogen (J. Whisstock, Monash U.), CO photolysis in haem oxygenase (M. Sugishima, Kurume U. School of Medicine), ferredoxin-dependant glutamate synthase (K. Shinmura, Osaka U.), and something we can all raise our glass to, auxin amido synthetase in Cabernet Sauvignon (T. Peat, CSIRO). Topics explored by SAXS included high-energy ion tracks (P. Kluth, Austrian National U.), self-assembled polymers (K. Jack, Ctr for Microscopy and Microanalysis), membrane fusion (A. Whitten, U. Queensland), full-length human ezrin (A. Duff, ANSTO) and the structure of starch (E. Gilbert, ANSTO). A. Criswell (Rigaku) described high-throughput biological SAXS in the home laboratory. Techniques to improve crystallization included metal-mediated synthetic symmetrization (A. Soriaga, UCLA), solvothermal synthesis of metal-organic frameworks (I. Williams, HKUST) and protein sequence engineering (Z. S. Derwenda, U. Virginia). The merits of evaluating crystal forms using the Cambridge Structural Database (P. Wood, CSD) and of using X-ray transparent plates for high-throughput protein crystallization (R. Thorne, Cornell U.) were also described.

[Award winners] Front row: Darren Goossens (winner of the Mathieson Medal of SCANZ), Lois Mathieson, Gautam Desiraju, Patience Thompson and Peter Colman (winner of the Bragg medal of the Society). Back: Award winners (identifications unknown).

The meeting closed with talks by the new editor in chief of Acta Cryst., S. Hasnain, on a new era of crystallographic-based science, and a final plenary by X.-M. Chen (Sun Yat Sen U.) on metal azolate frameworks for crystal engineering of functional materials.

William Duax

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These and over two hundred other photos taken at the 2012 meeting of AsCA, the SCANZ 28 and the Bragg Centennial Symposium are on the IUCr website ( There is a complete set of photos of the people at individual tables at the AsCA banquet. We regret that we are able to provide only partial captions for some of these pictures and cannot identify all participants. If you attended either meeting it is very likely that a photo of you is on the website. The website has been designed by the talented staff in Chester to make it possible for you to help us identify all those pictured. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.