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Structure. 2003 Jan;11(1):13-9.

How does radiation damage in protein crystals depend on X-ray dose?

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Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Is radiation damage to cryopreserved protein crystals strictly proportional to accumulated dose at the high-flux density of beams from undulators at third-generation synchrotron sources? The answer is "yes," for overall damage to several different kinds of protein crystals at flux densities up to 10(15) ph/sec/mm(2) (APS beamline 19-ID). We find that, at 12 keV (1 A wavelength), about ten absorbed photons are sufficient to "kill" a unit cell. As this corresponds to about one elastically scattered photon, each unit cell can contribute only about one photon to total Bragg diffraction. The smallest crystal that can yield a full data set to 3.5 A resolution has a diameter of about 20 microm (100 A unit cell).

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