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........ published in NEWSLETTER # 66

by Dr. S. Fortier, Queens University, Kingston (Canada)

Direct Methods for Solving Macromolecular Structures (NATO ASI SERIES C507) provides a comprehensive and in-depth overview of crystallographic structure determination methods for macromolecules. While having a focus based on the direct methods, the book adopts an inclusive and broad perspective. Thus, both direct and experimental phasing techniques are presented, highlighting their complementarities and synergies. As well, methodologies spanning the full crystallographic image reconstruction process - from low resolution envelope definition to high resolution atomic refinement - are discussed.

The first part of the book introduces the array of tools currently used in structure determination, whether originating from a mathematical, computational or experimental framework. This section displays the variety and ingenuity of old and new phasing approaches developed to solve increasingly complex structures.

The second part of the book focuses on applications to macromolecular structures. Perhaps most enlightening is the demonstration that progress is being made on all fronts. Thus, we see that MAD is solving larger and larger structures. With a growing databank and more efficient techniques, molecular replacement continues to increase its presence in structure determination. The use of phase information from electron microscopy images within the ME approach can attack such complex structures as membrane proteins. Shake-and-bake and the SHELX "half-baked" approaches continue to dazzle us with their successes in ab initio structure determination. The range of problems being considered is getting richer and more daring. Exceedingly large structures, such as ribosomal particles and virus structures, are being investigated using tailored-made methods.

The book concludes with a series of papers on latest developments/hot topics, which provides a view of the newest phasing methodologies and offers the promise of yet many more achievements to come.
Reference books: B274, C507

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