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BioXAS Practical Course on metalloproteins and organism tissue
EMBL, Hamburg Outstation, 10th-15th July 2007.

View full-size poster X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS) is one of the main techniques to study metals in biological systems. The impact of XAS on biology has increased in recent years as indicated by the number of studies reported in top rank journals. As a consequence, the interest on the technique is growing as well as the need to diffuse the method to a larger user community.

XAS allows accurate structural determination of the environment of different elements in systems where other structural techniques are not viable and it is also suited to complete the structural information obtained from protein crystallography or NMR spectroscopy in the perspective of structural genomic projects. Moreover, the range of investigated systems has widened to large protein complexes, whole cells and enzyme catalysis.

The course is intended for students and researchers interested in structural biology and not necessarily having previous experience in the field. The introductory theoretical aspects needed to understand the physical principles of the spectroscopy will be provided, but emphasis will be put on the practical aspects of XAS data collection and analysis by providing a comprehensive "hands on" experience of the technique. The course provides the participants with experience in data collection and procession as well as data analysis and interpretation of the results. International experts giving lectures and tutorials will be available for further discussions. For the interpretation of results lectures on related topics are included (e.g. bioinformatics, metal sites in proteins, mass spectrometry).

Tutorials will address all the aspects from sample preparation and optimization of the experimental parameters to theory and practical interpretation of the spectra (data analysis). The participants are encouraged to bring their own case studies for discussion with the tutors. An option to collect data prior to the course on one sample will be provided on request.

The practical course will cover theoretical principles of X-ray absorptions spectroscopy and their applications, hands-on tutorials ranging from sample preparation to data collection and data analysis, including principle component analysis, EXAFS refinement, and XANES simulation. Applications presented will comprise XAS tomography, new metal-binding motifs in proteins, generation and analysis of reaction intermediates, and XAS as a tool to probe elements in organism tissue.

The course is also supported by the Networking Activity of the I3-Project IA-SFS.