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x-ray crystallography

Biochemist Sheds Light on Structure of Key Cellular 'Gatekeeper'

Facing a challenge akin to solving a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle while blindfolded—and without touching the pieces—many structural biochemists thought it would be impossible to determine the atomic structure of a massive cellular machine called the nuclear pore complex (NPC), which is vital for cell survival.

Protein Imaging with X-Ray Vision

High resolution X-ray crystallography is an imaging technique in which X-ray beams are shot through purified, crystallized proteins. The beam scatters in different directions, allowing scientists to construct a detailed, 3-D model of the crystallized protein's molecular structure. Measuring the intensities and angles of the diffracted beams reveals the position of each atom in the protein.