WK.01 Biological Small Angle Solution Scattering - Theory and Practice


Small angle solution scattering (SAS) is experiencing a dramatic increase in popularity within the structural biology community. The availability of synchrotron radiation and neutron sources, commercial lab-source SAXS instrumentation, low-noise detectors, powerful computing hardware, and better algorithms, has made the technique accessible to a much larger audience than ever before. At the same time, biologists are investigating ever more complex systems that pose increasing challenges to conventional crystallography. Given that 75% to 80% of soluble, purified, protein samples fail to crystallize, having a solution-based technique that can provide some structural information is compelling. In addition, biological systems are studied more and more in the context of biologically relevant multi-macromolecule complexes. SAS is an excellent technique to pursue these problems.


This dual-track workshop brings together leading beamline scientists, experts in laboratory-based BioSAXS sources, and experienced users of the technique, to provide a unique, practical, "HOW TO" course in SAS data collection, processing, and interpretation. While a single day of lectures and computer exercises can hardly begin to cover the many powerful aspects of solution scattering, this course is designed to provide a foundation of essential information for any serious student wishing to apply SAS methods to problems in biology. Students will additionally have the opportunity to interact with experts to plan their proposed experiments.


Track A: Getting Started in Biological Small Angle Solution Scattering: your practical HOW TO guide.

The "Beginners Track" will focus on basic essentials and presumes that students have little or no previous SAS knowledge. The sessions will include both lectures and practical computer exercises. Emphasis will be placed on basic requirements for acceptable publication of SAS data. Topics also include sample preparation and guidelines for judging data quality, what to do about problematic (aggregated) samples, Guinier analysis, molecular weight determination, inverse Fourier methods and envelope calculations. Students will also learn some basics for home laboratory data collection and receive information about the various synchrotron BioSAXS beamlines. While this workshop is primarily focused on biological X-ray solution scattering, we expect to provide some content to raise student awareness on the unique opportunities and advantages presented by neutron scattering.


Track B: Using Advanced Methods in Biological Small Angle Solution Scattering

The parallel "Advanced Methods Track" will cater to the needs of the growing pool of experienced BioSAXS users who have mastered basic SAS data collection and analysis and are ready to tackle more advanced analytical processing techniques.  The session will focus on tools and proper techniques for protein-protein docking, atomistic and course-grained simulations, ensemble methods, mixtures and titration, structure refinement, and integration with NMR and other complementary data. Since many departments and multi-college consortia are starting to think about building lab-based BioSAXS facilities, a special lecture is planned which will help familiarize students with the various approaches and potential challenges for building lab source BioSAXS facilities.


Workshop format: learn by doing

While both tracks will include lectures, serious attention will be given to hands-on practical exercises. The schedule will also include time for an open help session where students can seek expert opinions on difficult problems or proposed experiments. Students will be expected to bring laptops with some appropriate pre-installed software. Prior to the workshop, students will be sent a link to the course web address containing the syllabus and location, a list of required software, installing and testing software. A few extra laptops will be provided to cover unexpected hardware or software problems on site. Since some exercises may rely upon the use of external compute-servers at the lecturer's home institution, web access will be provided during the course. Pre-loaded portable disks and memory sticks will also be available to help reduce the need for large downloads over conference bandwidth.


After the Workshop

 Several highly relevant BioSAXS-related sessions are scheduled for the beginning of the regular ACA meeting to immediately follow this workshop. Students of this workshop will be in an excellent position to take full advantage these cutting-edge presentations and are encouraged to attend and exchange ideas with the many SAS experts in attendance.


Organizers: Richard Gillian, Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, [email protected]

Edward Snell, Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Inst., [email protected]


Workshop Fee:

Student or Postdoc - $100
Academic, non-student - $140
Corporate, non-student - $250