Krystalografia białek w Międzynarodowym Roku Krystalografii


  • Mariusz Jaskólski członek korespondent PAN. Zakład Krystalografii, Wydział Chemii UAM, Centrum Badań Biokrystalograficznych, Instytut Chemii Bioorganicznej PAN

Słowa kluczowe:

protein crystallography, International Year of Crystallography, structural biology, Data Protein Bank, synchrotron radiation, XFEL


The United Nations proclaimed 2014 as International Year of Crystallography. Unlike physics, chemistry or biology, crystallography is a rather narrowly defined science. It is, however, very powerful through its structure-penetrating methodology and interdisciplinary intergrowth with all other natural and life sciences. Evolved from a mineralogy-related subject, crystallography gained momentum with the discovery of Max Laue (1912) that X-rays can be diffracted by crystals. In the hands of the father-and-son team of the Braggs in England, this discovery became a powerful tool for unraveling the atomic structure of matter. Starting with simple chemical molecules and crystals, the method of X-ray crystallography has also been used for biological macromolecules and their complexes, such as viruses, biological machines and organelles. In a spectacular synergism, crystallography and technology have fueled their own advances. The most dramatic change happened, and is still happening, in the generation of powerful X-ray beams. Home sources are almost forgotten and even the most powerful synchrotrons are being dwarfed by the looming X-ray Free Electron Lasers. With brightness that makes our Sun look terribly pale, these sources will ultimately allow us to get rid of the final constraint: of the crystal. We are thus looking into crystallography without crystals, at nanometer scale and in femtosecond time. However, the principle of diffraction holds, and the goal is the same: to understand the processes of life through the elucidation of the atomic structure of matter, even if it is transient, dynamic, or otherwise delicate.