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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Evolving SAXS versatility: solution X-ray scattering for macromolecular architecture, functional landscapes, and integrative structural biology.

  • Author(s): Brosey, Chris A
  • Tainer, John A
  • et al.

Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) has emerged as an enabling integrative technique for comprehensive analyses of macromolecular structures and interactions in solution. Over the past two decades, SAXS has become a mainstay of the structural biologist's toolbox, supplying multiplexed measurements of molecular shape and dynamics that unveil biological function. Here, we discuss evolving SAXS theory, methods, and applications that extend the field of small-angle scattering beyond simple shape characterization. SAXS, coupled with size-exclusion chromatography (SEC-SAXS) and time-resolved (TR-SAXS) methods, is now providing high-resolution insight into macromolecular flexibility and ensembles, delineating biophysical landscapes, and facilitating high-throughput library screening to assess macromolecular properties and to create opportunities for drug discovery. Looking forward, we consider SAXS in the integrative era of hybrid structural biology methods, its potential for illuminating cellular supramolecular and mesoscale structures, and its capacity to complement high-throughput bioinformatics sequencing data. As advances in the field continue, we look forward to proliferating uses of SAXS based upon its abilities to robustly produce mechanistic insights for biology and medicine.

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