National Center for
5C6L: Crystal Structure of Gadolinium derivative of HEWL solved using intense Free-Electron Laser radiation
IUCrJ (2015) 2 p.627-634
X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) show great promise for macromolecular structure determination from sub-micrometre-sized crystals, using the emerging method of serial femtosecond crystallography. The extreme brightness of the XFEL radiation can multiply ionize most, if not all, atoms in a protein, causing their scattering factors to change during the pulse, with a preferential 'bleaching' of heavy atoms. This paper investigates the effects of electronic damage on experimental data collected from a Gd derivative of lysozyme microcrystals at different X-ray intensities, and the degree of ionization of Gd atoms is quantified from phased difference Fourier maps. A pattern sorting scheme is proposed to maximize the ionization contrast and the way in which the local electronic damage can be used for a new experimental phasing method is discussed.