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Macromolecular Crystallography
Australian Synchrotron beamlines

Macromolecular Crystallography

Macromolecular Crystallography beamlines at the Australian Synchrotron (MX1 and MX2).

Introduction

The Macromolecular Crystallography (MX) beamlines are general purpose crystallography instruments for determining chemical and biological structures. The MX1 beamline is a bending-magnet beamline with stability and ease of use for high-throughput crystallography projects. The MX2 beamline is a finely-focused in-vacuum undulator equipped with a microcollimator. It is ideal for weakly-diffracting, hard-to-crystallise proteins, viruses, protein assemblies and nucleic acids as well as smaller molecules such as inorganic catalysts and organic drug molecules.

X-ray crystallography can be used to determine three-dimensional structure of macromolecules proteins, DNA, RNA viruses and cell structures.  MX1 and MX2 have complementary capabilities. MX1 facilitates high density throughput screening. MX2, with its upgraded ACRF detector, is ideal for weakly-diffracting, hard-to-crystallise proteins, viruses, protein assemblies and nucleic acids— as well as smaller molecules such as inorganic catalysts and organic drug molecules.

Beamline specific features

 

MX1

MX2

Energy range (user controlled) (keV)

8-18

8-15.5

Beamsize at sample position (FWHM HxV) (µm)

120x120

25x15

Camera zoom

fixed length camera (5X)

zoom camera (8X)

Minimum recommended crystal size

protein crystals >50µm; chemical crystals as small as 10µm (with strongly scattering elements)

protein crystals >10µm; chemical crystals as small as 5µm (with strongly scattering elements)

 

 

 

Additional features

UV laser

Micro-collimator

 

Features common to both beamlines

  • Local/ remote beamline operation; remote access through NX technology or HTML5 VNC client Guacamole
  • Automated scans of metal edges for MAD and excitation scans
  • Automated data processing
  • Sample mounting robot (SSRL type) accepting both SSRL cassettes and unipucks without lids; sample exchange time ~2min (centering time excluded); optional manual mounting of crystals directly onto gonio
  • active beam position steering 

Techniques available

  • High resolution single wavelength anomalous dispersion (SAD)
  • Multiple wavelength anomalous dispersion (MAD)
  • Radiation damage induced phasing (using UV laser on MX1)

 

Technical updates

MX1

Now available

  • Upgraded sample camera optics: High-res sample video microscope (coincident with the beam) for alignment of crystals to the x-ray beam embedded in the Blu-Ice User Interface.  The new AreaVision interface allows users to take snapshots of their crystals in .jpg format.
  • Crystal pictures stored with every oscillation
  • Sample mounting microscopes, including a Leica M205C stereo microscope with (maximum) 20.5:1 zoom.  Allows overview and detail observation using one instrument.
  • Multiple wavelength anomalous dispersion (MAD)
  • High resolution single wavelength anomalous dispersion (SAD)
  • Sample mounting robot (SSRL type) for robotic loading and centering of crystals
  • Remote Access for data collection (via the VBL system and Store.Sync)
  • Access to beamline and data through VBL
  • Upgraded data security.  Users will be now issued with a one-time password for use during their beamtime.  This password will not work outside those beamtime hours.  Access to user data after that time will be via VBL (virtual beamline).
  • New user cabins are at the MX beamlines.  These offer noise reduction and greater environment control.
  • User changeable energy is now available (energy range 8.5-17.5 keV).
  • New Vortex EX90 Si-drift fluorescence detector available.
  • Autoindexing upon collection of test diffraction shots
  • Autoprocessing of datasets
  • mini Kappa gonio for full diffraction sphere coverage

 

Coming soon

  • Sample annealing in the cryo-stream using flipper, or 'credit-card' method
  • Screening server
  • Automatic indexing and strategy calculation upon collecting of test diffraction shots 
  • On the fly data quality when collecting a dataset 

 

MX2

Now available

  • Upgraded sample camera optics: High-res sample video microscope (coincident with the beam) for alignment of crystals to the x-ray beam embedded in the Blu-Ice User Interface.  The new AreaVision interface allows users to take snapshots of their crystals in .jpg format.
  • Crystal pictures stored with every oscillation
  • Sample mounting microscopes, including a Leica M205C stereo microscope with (maximum) 20.5:1 zoom.  Allows overview and detail observation using one instrument.
  • User changeable energy is available.  It is fully automated via new beam-steering feedback function.  This is also enabled by the new AreaVision camera interface.
  • Upgraded data security.  Users will be now issued with a one-time password for use during their beamtime.  This password will not work outside those beamtime hours.  Access to user data after that time will be via VBL (virtual beamline).
  • High resolution single wavelength anomalous dispersion (SAD)
  • Multiple wavelength anomalous dispersion (MAD)
  • Automated scans of metal edges for MAD and excitation scans (fluorescence scans)
  • Sample mounting robot (SSRL type) for robotic loading and centering of crystals.
  • Replacement MX2 sample motors with improved accuracy for positioning sample in the beam.
  • Remote Access for data collection (via the VBL system and Store.Sync)
  • Access to beamline and data through VBL
  • New user cabins have been installed at the MX beamlines.  These offer noise reduction and greater environment control.
  • A windows machine has been provided for our users
  • Tray screening - unavailable until further notice
  • Micro collimator that can produce beam sizes of <10µm (please ask beamline staff ahead of your beamtime if you would like to use the micro collimator)
  • Autoindexing upon collection of test diffraction shots
  • Autoprocessing of datasets

Coming soon 

  • User changeable sample light intensity.
  • Blu-Ice screening server
  • Use of 311 crystal to extend the energy range of the beamline
  • Automatic indexing and strategy calculation upon collecting of test diffraction shots
  • On the fly data quality when collecting a dataset 

 

MX acknowledges the support of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF): 

australian cancer research foundation

Cancerresearch_teal_for_AS_website

 

Beamtime guide

Proposals

Research scientists who would like to apply for time on the Macromolecular Crystallography beamlines should refer to the User Office webpages for the most current information and downloads associated with this beamline. Proposal deadlines are detailed here.

Any user group with questions regarding the technical capabilities of the beamline, or the suitability of the beamline for the analysis of their samples, should feel free to contact the Principal Beamline Scientist (contact details appear on the Staff webpage for this beamline). For further information on the Beamtime Proposal process, please contact the User Office directly.

Preparing your visit

Information on all administrative steps following a successful proposal (user access, experiment authorisations and safety inductions) can be found here.

Full sample description requirements for Experiment Authorisation Forms can be found in the MX UserWiki (authentication required- please ask beamline staff for login details):

Frequently asked questions