Dr. Flora Meilleur chaired the 4th workshop on the applications of neutrons scattering in structural biology (BCH590E) hosted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) during June 24-28, 2013. Since the inaugural event in 2010, the workshop has increased in popularity and broadened to include graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and university faculty with diverse backgrounds and interests in structural biology. The workshop is structured to introduce the participants to neutron scattering techniques, instrumentation and data collection, analysis and interpretation and to expose them to cutting-edge research in neutron structural biology. Over 60 graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and university faculty – from 34 premier universities and research institutions across the United States, with no prior neutron scattering experience have now participated.
The 2013 workshop symposium opened with an introduction to neutrons in biology by Dean Myles (ORNL), and featured research presentations by
- Dennis Brown (North Carolina State University) on the application of Small Angle Neutron Scattering (SANS) to investigate the solution structure of the prototype virus of genus alphavirus in the family Togaviridae Sindbis
- Zimei Bu (City College of New York) on conformational changes and dynamics of the interfacial adapter proteins NHERF1 and Ezrin upon heterodimer formation investigated by SANS and Neutron Spin Echo (NSE)
- Alice Vrielink (University of Western Australia) on the mechanism of cholesterol oxidase enzyme in flavin mediated oxidation investigated by ultra-high resolution X-ray and neutron crystallography
- Jan Kmetko (Kenyon College) on the interaction of an amyloid peptide with synthetic bio-membrane studied by neutron reflectometry and
- Frederick Heberle (ORNL) on membrane raft mixtures investigated by SANS.
The workshop program included lectures and tutorials on neutron scattering techniques and on practical applications of SANS, neutron crystallography, reflectometry, spectroscopy and imaging. Participants also toured ORNL’s flagship neutron and computational facilities: the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR), the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS), the historic Graphite Reactor and the Titan supercomputer.
This year’s workshop had an additional special flavor as the course also provided several participants with the opportunity to become the first external users of the new single crystal diffractometer at the HFIR. The IMAGINE instrument is designed to provide neutron data at or near atomic resolutions. Beam line features include novel elliptical focusing mirrors that deliver neutrons into a 2.0 x 3.2 mm2 focal spot at the sample position with full width vertical and horizontal divergence of 0.5° and 0.6°, respectively, and variable short and long wavelength cutoff optics that provide automated exchange between multiple wavelength configurations (lmin=2.0 Å, 2.8 Å, 3.3 Å – lmax =3.0 Å, 4.0 Å, 4.5 Å, ~20 Å) (Meilleur et al, in press).
The workshop is co-organized by NC State and ORNL. Sponsors included ORNL (Neutron Sciences Directorate), the Tennessee Department of Energy (DOE) Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and the Joint Institute for Neutron Scattering (JINS). Thanks to the sponsors’ generous support, course attendance is at no cost to participants from institutions within the United States.
Principal Investigator Alice Vrielink (U. Western Australia; right) and IMAGINE instrument scientist and workshop organizer Flora Meilleur
Graduate students Robert Fick (U. Michigan) and Martin Tsui (Florida State U.) examine crystals before running tests on the IMAGINE beam line
Meilleur F. Munshi P., Kovalesky A., Koritsanszky T., Blessing R., Robertson L., Stoica A.D., Crow L., Myles D.A. (2013). IMAGINE: first neutron protein structure and new capabilities for neutron macromolecular crystallography, Acta Crystallographica D, in press.