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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2002 Oct;12(5):674-8.

New approaches to high-throughput phasing.

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Synchrotron Radiation Research Section, National Cancer Institute, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Building 725A-X9, Upton, NY 11973, USA.


Recent progress in macromolecular phasing, in part stimulated by the high-throughput structural biology initiatives, has made this crucial stage of the elucidation of crystal structures easier and more automatic. A quick soak in various salts leads to the rapid incorporation of the anomalously scattering ions, suitable for phasing by MAD (multiwavelength anomalous dispersion), SAD (single-wavelength anomalous dispersion) or MIR (multiple isomorphous replacement) methods. The availability of stable synchrotron beam lines equipped with elaborate hardware control and sophisticated data processing programs makes it possible to collect very accurate diffraction data and to solve structures from the very weak anomalous signal of such atoms as sulfur or phosphorus, inherently present in macromolecules. The current progress in phasing, coupled with the parallel advances in protein crystallization, diffraction data collection and so on, suggests that, in the near future, the process of macromolecular crystal structure elucidation may become fully automatic.

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