Femtosecond nanocrystallography using X-ray lasers for membrane protein structure determination

Petra Fromme, John Spence

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


The invention of free electron X-ray lasers has opened a new era for membrane protein structure determination with the recent first proof-of-principle of the new concept of femtosecond nanocrystallography. Structure determination is based on thousands of diffraction snapshots that are collected on a fully hydrated stream of nanocrystals. This review provides a summary of the method and describes how femtosecond X-ray crystallography overcomes the radiation-damage problem in X-ray crystallography, avoids the need for growth and freezing of large single crystals while offering a new method for direct digital phase determination by making use of the fully coherent nature of the X-ray beam. We briefly review the possibilities for time-resolved crystallography, and the potential for making 'molecular movies' of membrane proteins at work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)509-516
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Structural Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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