U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Protein Crystallography with Neutrons Featured in Physics Today
Published: November 12, 2003
Posted: November 24, 2003

Research at the new protein crystallography station at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) has demonstrated that neutron crystallography can reveal information about the structure of proteins that is not accessible by x-ray crystallography. A scientific team led by Gerald Bunick of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and including researchers from the University of Tennessee, the Fox Chase Cancer Center, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory has determined the precise arrangement of hydrogen atoms on key amino acids of the enzyme D-xylose isomerase. This protein is a bimetallic enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of glucose into fructose by hydrogen atom transfer. It is widely used in the manufacture of high-fructose corn syrup for use in foods. Understanding the structure of the enzyme could lead to design of a modified enzyme that is more efficient in the production of fructose from glucose. Information obtained through neutron crystallography will enhance our knowledge of the mechanism of proton transfer in enzymes of this type as well as in other related enzymes involved in several important metabolic pathways. The new study is highlighted in an article about neutron crystallography of proteins in the November 2003 issue of Physics Today. A scientific paper on the research has just been accepted for publication in Acta Crystallographica D.

Contact: Roland F. Hirsch, SC-73, (301) 903-9009
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Structural Biology, Biomolecular Characterization and Imaging
  • Research Area: Structural Biology Infrastructure

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER
      (formerly SC-73 Medical Sciences Division, OBER)


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Aug 24, 2019
New Approach for Studying How Microbes Influence Their Environment
A diverse group of scientists suggests a common framework and targeting of known microbial processes [more...]

Aug 08, 2019
Nutrient-Hungry Peatland Microbes Reduce Carbon Loss Under Warmer Conditions
Enzyme production in peatlands reduces carbon lost to respiration under future high temperatures. [more...]

Aug 05, 2019
Amazon Forest Response to CO2 Fertilization Dependent on Plant Phosphorus Acquisition
AmazonFACE Model Intercomparison. The Science Plant growth is dependent on the availabi [more...]

Jul 29, 2019
A Slippery Slope: Soil Carbon Destabilization
Carbon gain or loss depends on the balance between competing biological, chemical, and physical reac [more...]

Jul 15, 2019
Field Evaluation of Gas Analyzers for Measuring Ecosystem Fluxes
How gas analyzer type and correction method impact measured fluxes. The Science A side- [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)