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The Macromolecular X-ray Crystallography Facility

The macromolecular crystallography facility allows users to solve 3-dimensional structures of proteins using X-rays. The facility consists of the equipment and resources required to produce crystals of macromolecules (single proteins, protein:protein complexes, nucleoprotein complexes, proteins in complex with ligands) and collect the X-ray diffraction pattern data from single crystals.

Crystal Screening

The facility is equipped with a Mosquito nanodrop crystallisation robot. It is ideal for screening many crystallisation conditions with a minimal amount of protein. We routinelly commence screening with 2 sparse matrix screens from Molecular Dimensions (Structure I + II and JCSG) and a systematic grid screen (PACT).

The Crystalisation Room

The main crystalisation room is at a controlled temperature of 20 degrees C. It provides ample storage for crystal trays and a work bench. For crystal visualisation and manipulation, two Nikon stereo microscopes are provided. They are equipped with cold light sources and polarising filters. One of the microscopes is also fitted with a digital camera and a 17 inch monitor. Check out our crystal pictures and movies taken with this camera. The facility also provides two RUMED vibration free crystallisation incubators at 4 and 14 degrees C.

New Robotics

We have recently invested in a Rigaku Minstrel and Gallery, a system for automated visualisation - through a digital microscope - and storage of crystallisation plates. The Minstrel is programmed to make regular inspections of users' trays in the Gallery, and the photomicrographs can be inspected over the internet. The Gallery is currently set at 4 degrees C, and we hope to expand this system later in the year (fingers crossed!).

The X-ray generator

We are equipped with a computer-controlled Rigaku MicroMax 007 rotating anode X-ray generator with osmic mirrors and a Raxis IV++ detector, housed within a large, walk-in enclosure. Our cryostat is a Rigaku X-stream; this system extracts nitrogen from the ambient air and liquefies it using a helium compressor. The X-stream removes the need for day-to-day handling of large volumes of liquid nitrogen.

Crystal handling

We have two long-term storage dewars, and two dry shippers for transporting crystals to synchrotron facilities. Crystals can be sent in vials and canes, but we have also a set of pucks compatible with the ESRF sample changer and we currently share, with friends in York, a set of the universal pucks used at the Diamond synchrotron.


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February 2014
JBC Best paper of the year 2013 awarded to Pr. Rick Lewis

January 2014
2014 is the year of Crystallography

January 2014
CCP4 Study Weekend
3-5th of January, Nottingham University

Contact Info

Newcastle Structural Biology Laboratory
ICAMB, Medical School University of Newcastle Framlington place NE2 4HH, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Phone: (191) 222-7436
Fax: (191) 222-7424