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Acta Crystallogr D Biol Crystallogr. 2011 Jun;67(Pt 6):568-77. doi: 10.1107/S090744491101448X. Epub 2011 May 17.

Analysis of phases in the structure determination of an icosahedral virus.

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Biological Sciences, Purdue University, 240 South Martin Jischke Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2032, USA.


The constraints imposed on structure-factor phases by noncrystallographic symmetry (NCS) allow phase improvement, phase extension to higher resolution and hence ab initio phase determination. The more numerous the NCS redundancy and the greater the volume used for solvent flattening, the greater the power for phase determination. In a case analyzed here the icosahedral NCS phasing appeared to have broken down, although later successful phase extension was possible when the envelope around the NCS region was tightened. The phases from the failed phase-determination attempt fell into four classes, all of which satisfied the NCS constraints. These four classes corresponded to the correct solution, opposite enantiomorph, Babinet inversion and opposite enantiomorph with Babinet inversion. These incorrect solutions can be seeded from structure factors belonging to reciprocal-space volumes that lie close to icosahedral NCS axes where the structure amplitudes tend to be large and the phases tend to be 0 or π. Furthermore, the false solutions can spread more easily if there are large errors in defining the envelope designating the region in which NCS averaging is performed.

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