Commission on Crystallographic Computing

Small-angle scattering from macromolecular solutions

Dmitri Svergun
European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Hamburg Outstation c/o DESY,Hamburg, Germany,
and Institute of Crystallography, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

Small-angle scattering of X-rays and neutrons (SAS) is a universal technique serving as a nanometer structure probe for a wide variety of non-crystalline objects (e.g. solutions of biological macromolecules, nanocomposites, alloys, synthetic polymers etc). For macromolecular solutions, it allows one to study native particles and to analyse structural changes in response to variations in external conditions [1]. The scattering data bear information about the overall shape and internal structure at a resolution of 1-2 nm. The method is applicable to a broad range of sizes, from individual macromolecules to multi-domain proteins and large macromolecular assemblies. Recent progress in instrumentation and especially development of novel data analysis methods [1,2] significantly enhanced resolution and reliability of structural models provided by the technique. Many of the approaches developed for biological macromolecules are also applicable to other objects like polymers and nanoparticles. After a brief introduction into the basics of small-angle scattering, advanced methods covering major data processing and analysis steps for scattering from biomacromolecular solutions will be presented. These methods will include, in particular, ab initio low resolution structure determination, rigid body refinement, contrast variation studies using neutron scattering and quantitative analysis of oligomeric mixtures and flexible macromolecules. The use of the programs will be illustrated in the practical session.

1. Svergun, D. I. & Koch, M. H. J. (2003) Rep. Progr. Phys. 66, 1735-1782
2. Petoukhov, M.V. & Svergun, D.I. (2007) Curr Opin Struct Biol. 17, 562-571

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