[PC] X-ray crystallography of proteins

[PC] X-ray crystallography of proteins

Protein structure determination using X-ray crystallography is the major experimental technique in Structural Biology. This module will provide an in-depth introduction to the technique. No similar module is offered at this level anywhere in South Africa.



Programme Co-ordinator, Trevor Sewell, has experience in computer-based education, and is actively engaged in research in the field of structural biology. In addition to his co-ordinating role, Prof Sewell will present lectures on the determination of the three-dimensional structures of cells using tomography and single particle methods for the determination of macromolecular structure. He will also present workshops explaining some of the major achievements of structural biology studies on large structures including the ribosome.

Senior Lecturer, Muhammed Sayed (Department of Biotechnology, UWC), is a protein crystallographer who completed his post-doctoral studies under Professor Tom Blundell at Cambridge University. He will supervise the web-courses in protein structure and protein crystallography. His goal is to develop protein crystallography as a practical discipline. He will be involved in the "Introduction to X-ray crystallography" sub-module.

International consultant, Mike Lawrence, will also present lectures and workshops on protein crystallography

Main Outcomes

The ability to:

  • crystallize proteins,
  • collect and process crystallographic data,
  • determine space groups,
  • solve structures by molecular replacement,
  • solve structures by isomorphous replacement and multiple anomalous dispersion techniques
  • display structures
  • build models of proteins using experimentally determined maps
  • use standard crystallographic software

Main Content

  • Basic theory of scattering
  • Symmetry
  • Design and operation of experimental equipment
  • Data processing
  • Structure determination
  • Display and model building
  • Concepts of structure refinement
Home Department: Biotechnology (UWC)
Module description (Header): Protein Crystallography
Generic module name: Structural Biology
Alpha-numeric code: STB705
Credit Value: 20 Credits
Duration: 12 Weeks
Module Type: P
Level: 8
Co-requisites: None
Prohibited combinations: None
Learning time breakdown (hours):
Contact with lecturer/tutor: 40
Assignments & tasks: 60
Tests & examinations: 5
Practicals: 15
Selfstudy: 80
Total Learning Time 200
Methods of Student Assessment: Students will be required to present at least two lectures on specialist topics and complete three computer-based assignments demonstrating mastery of a variety of techniques. There will also be a class test. Moderation will be internal.
Lectures - 10%
Class test - 10%
Assignments - 80%


Heavy atom Derivatives

Read the sections on MIR and MAD in the courseware (Birkbeck Macromolecular Structure Determination Course):


  • Process the psaa PtNit derivative data using either DENZO of CrystalClear

Map Interpretation

Programme details

  • Read the manuals for O, Solve, Resolve, MAID.

Online Lectures

Birkbeck Protein Crystallisation Course

Birkbeck Macromolecular Structure Determination Course

Electron Crystallography Virtual Course - Erice 2004

Protein Crystallography Practical Course


[PC] Tutorial 1: X-ray data processing by Mike Lawrence

[PC] Tutorial 2: Phasing by isomorphous replacement by Mike Lawrence


Blow, D. 2002. Outline of Crystallography for Biologists. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.
Lawrence, M, P Pilling, V Epa, A Berry, A Ogunniyi, and J Paton. 1998. "The crystal structure of pneumococcal surface antigen PsaA reveals a metal-binding site and a novel structure for a putative ABC-type binding protein." Structure, 6 (12): 1553-1561.


Solve/Resolve - see the software manuals section for Solve/Resolve and other software, such as PyMol, O, Spider, etc.