X-ray Crystallography Platform


For the determination of high-resolution structures of biological samples by X-ray crystallography almost no size limit exists. Small molecules as well as huge macromolecular complexes like ribosomes or viruses can be investigated by this technique. This versatile usability is a main reason why crystallography has matured into the most widely used structural method for understanding biological processes and disease pathways.

The implementation of a Macromolecular Crystallography Platform at the STB is therefore an important structural biology technology on campus. Currently, the platform is equipped with a Mosquito crystallization robot for high throughput automated screening of crystal growth in 96-well format and volumes as small as 200 nL. Routinely, up to thousand different crystallization conditions are screened with wide ranges of buffers and precipitating agents. Once initial crystals are obtained, the optimization process starts with automated or manual mode to obtain isolated crystals of sufficient dimensions and quality for the X‑ray diffraction experiments.

For x-ray diffraction experiments and data collection, we have regular access to the P11 beamline at Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron (DESY) of the Helmholtz Association in Hamburg and to the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France. The platform has all required hard- and software as well as know-how for data processing, structure solving, refinement, and analysis. For drug discovery, the Facility provides high-resolution structures of inhibitors bound to their targets, allowing for their structure-based, rational optimization. Thus, it complements and strengthens existing drug discovery efforts at HMGU. Furthermore, the platform expands the methodology available to understand the mechanistic basis for biological processes.

The platform is established and run by the Niessing lab at the Institute of Structural Biology. Dr. Robert Janowski is the X-ray crystallography expert who manages the platform. Please contact us for more details.