BER launches Environmental System Science Program. Visit our new website under construction!

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-33.2 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

Mar 23, 2021
Molecular Connections from Plants to Fungi to Ants
Lipids transfer energy and serve as an inter-kingdom communication tool in leaf-cutter ants&rsqu [more...]

Mar 19, 2021
Microbes Use Ancient Metabolism to Cycle Phosphorus
Microbial cycling of phosphorus through reduction-oxidation reactions is older and more widespre [more...]

Feb 22, 2021
Warming Soil Means Stronger Microbe Networks
Soil warming leads to more complex, larger, and more connected networks of microbes in those soi [more...]

Jan 27, 2021
Labeling the Thale Cress Metabolites
New data pipeline identifies metabolites following heavy isotope labeling.

Analysis [more...]

Aug 31, 2020
Novel Bacterial Clade Reveals Origin of Form I Rubisco

  • All plant biomass is sourced from the carbon-fixing enzyme Rub [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)