Comprehensive Model for X-Ray-Induced Damage in Protein Crystallography

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Acquisition of X-ray crystallographic data is always accompanied by structural degradation owing to the absorption of energy. The application of high-fluency X-ray sources to large biomolecules has increased the importance of finding ways to curtail the onset of X-ray-induced damage. A significant effort has been under way with the aim of identifying strategies for protecting protein structure. A comprehensive model is presented that has the potential to explain, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the structural changes induced in crystalline protein at 100 K. The first step is to consider the qualitative question: what are the radiation-induced intermediates and expected end products? The aim of this paper is to assist in optimizing these strategies through a fundamental understanding of radiation physics and chemistry, with additional insight provided by theoretical calculations performed on the many schemes presented.