Neutron Scattering Techniques and Applications in Structural Biology

John F. Ankner1, William T. Heller1, Kenneth W. Herwig1, Flora Meilleur2, Dean A.A. Myles1

1 Neutron Sciences Directorate, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 2 Molecular and Structural Biochemistry Department, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
Publication Name:  Current Protocols in Protein Science
Unit Number:  Unit 17.16
DOI:  10.1002/0471140864.ps1716s72
Online Posting Date:  April, 2013
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Neutron scattering is exquisitely sensitive to the position, concentration, and dynamics of hydrogen atoms in materials and is a powerful tool for the characterization of structure‐function and interfacial relationships in biological systems. Modern neutron scattering facilities offer access to a sophisticated, nondestructive suite of instruments for biophysical characterization that provides spatial and dynamic information spanning from Ångstroms to microns and from picoseconds to microseconds, respectively. Applications in structural biology range from the atomic‐resolution analysis of individual hydrogen atoms in enzymes through to meso‐ and macro‐scale analysis of complex biological structures, membranes, and assemblies. The large difference in neutron scattering length between hydrogen and deuterium allows contrast variation experiments to be performed and enables H/D isotopic labeling to be used for selective and systematic analysis of the local structure, dynamics, and interactions of multi‐component systems. This overview describes the available techniques and summarizes their practical application to the study of biomolecular systems. Curr. Protoc. Protein Sci. 72:17.16.1‐17.16.34. © 2013 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Keywords: neutron scattering; bio‐macromolecule structure; membranes; protein dynamics; diffraction; quasi‐elastic; reflectometry; SANS; deuteration

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Basic Principles
  • Neutron Diffraction
  • Small‐Angle Neutron Scattering (SANS)
  • Neutron Reflectometry
  • Dynamics in Biological Systems
  • Deuterium Labeling
  • Conclusion
  • Acknowledgements
  • Literature Cited
  • Figures
  • Tables
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