A new technique for determining a protein’s three-dimensional structure has revealed the inner workings of an important enzyme in Trypanosoma brucei, the parasite that causes sleeping sickness. Typically, researchers determine these structures by shining an X-ray beam onto a protein crystal. But, it’s difficult to grow crystals that are large enough to withstand this radiation for long enough to capture the necessary information. A new method, known as serial femtosecond crystallography, outruns the radiation-damage problem by using short X-ray laser pulses that radiate a steady stream of small crystals.
Read more about this research from the 29 November issue of Science Express here.
[Image courtesy of Michael Duszenko, University of Tübingen; click the image for more information.]