The research, just published in the online edition of the journal Foundations of Crystallography, could lead to a much more rapid acquisition of knowledge about molecules, Wang said. Authors of the paper, in addition to Wang, include from the Wang lab Lirong Chen, Hua Zhang, Weihong Zhou and Zheng-Qing Fu. Collaborators from the Institute of Biophysics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing include Zhi-Jie Liu, Dong Wu and Wei Ding. Wang is a member of the department of biochemistry and molecular biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at UGA.
X-ray diffraction data on crystals have been steadily improving over the past few decades, but the study of large molecules has continued to present sometimes-intractable problems. One always present issue is that while X-rays can reveal much about molecule, the technique also destroys the molecules, just as too much radiation can be lethal in humans. So the question has persisted: How can we get the same quality of data using a lower amount of total X-ray radiation than what we use now to study molecules?
Wang and his team had the idea of taking what might be called "slices" of radiation dosage to produce multiple scans. The total information from these combined multiple "weaker" scans might then actually surpass what could be found with normal X-ray crystallography with a single stronger scan. In order to see if this actually worked, Wang and his collaborators came up with a theoretical prediction for the strategy and then tested it using six bovine insulin crystals.
"The calculations from the diffraction data of these six insulin crystals collected using two different data-collection systems showed that the data is much better with the MDS strategy than with the regular single-path strategy," said Wang.
While the new technique could one day be important in breakthroughs in medicine and human health, the immediate impact is that it
|Contact: B.C. Wang|
University of Georgia