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Protein Sci. 2010 Apr;19(4):642-57. doi: 10.1002/pro.351.

Small-angle scattering for structural biology--expanding the frontier while avoiding the pitfalls.

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School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia.


The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in the use of small-angle scattering for the study of biological macromolecules in solution. The drive for more complete structural characterization of proteins and their interactions, coupled with the increasing availability of instrumentation and easy-to-use software for data analysis and interpretation, is expanding the utility of the technique beyond the domain of the biophysicist and into the realm of the protein scientist. However, the absence of publication standards and the ease with which 3D models can be calculated against the inherently 1D scattering data means that an understanding of sample quality, data quality, and modeling assumptions is essential to have confidence in the results. This review is intended to provide a road map through the small-angle scattering experiment, while also providing a set of guidelines for the critical evaluation of scattering data. Examples of current best practice are given that also demonstrate the power of the technique to advance our understanding of protein structure and function.

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