UNIT 7.13 Diffraction Techniques in Structural Biology

  1. Martin Egli

Published Online: 1 JUN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/0471142700.nc0713s41

Current Protocols in Nucleic Acid Chemistry

Current Protocols in Nucleic Acid Chemistry

How to Cite

Egli, M. 2010. Diffraction Techniques in Structural Biology. Current Protocols in Nucleic Acid Chemistry. 41:7.13:7.13.1–7.13.35.

Author Information

  1. Department of Biochemistry, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 JUN 2010
  2. Published Print: JUN 2010


A detailed understanding of chemical and biological function and the mechanisms underlying the molecular activities ultimately requires atomic-resolution structural data. Diffraction-based techniques such as single-crystal X-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, and neutron diffraction are well established and they have paved the road to the stunning successes of modern-day structural biology. The major advances achieved in the last 20 years in all aspects of structural research, including sample preparation, crystallization, the construction of synchrotron and spallation sources, phasing approaches, and high-speed computing and visualization, now provide specialists and nonspecialists alike with a steady flow of molecular images of unprecedented detail. The present unit combines a general overview of diffraction methods with a detailed description of the process of a single-crystal X-ray structure determination experiment, from chemical synthesis or expression to phasing and refinement, analysis, and quality control. For novices it may serve as a stepping-stone to more in-depth treatises of the individual topics. Readers relying on structural information for interpreting functional data may find it a useful consumer guide. Curr. Protoc. Nucleic Acid Chem. 41:7.13.1-7.13.35. © 2010 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


  • structural biology;
  • diffraction;
  • crystallization;
  • electron microscopy;
  • neutron scattering;
  • X-ray crystallography