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Diamond Light Source
Group Leader, XFEL Hub
Allen M. Orville is a Wellcome Investigator and Group Leader of the XFEL Hub at Diamond. He has roughly equal training in spectroscopy and crystallography, and often applies both methods to the same samples. This approach yields correlated electronic and atomic structures of macromolecules and supports unparalleled mechanistic insights. The Orville group uses both synchrotron and X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) sources for serial crystallography strategies that exploit microcrystal slurries. Our research includes time-resolve studies ranging from fs through seconds with data collected at XFELs in the USA, Japan, Korea, Germany or Switzerland. To study reactions from microseconds through seconds we exploit several beamlines at synchrotrons like Diamond Light Source I24 and VMXi.
New X-ray sources create new opportunities; as a result, we are entering an era of dynamic structural biology. This is as much a concept, as a set of tools to collect as much data as possible, from every sample and X-ray pulse, and enables one to create atomic resolution ‘movies’ of macromolecules engaged in catalysis. Thus, time-resolved crystallography, a long-standing frontier challenge for the field, is achievable with serial methods at XFELs and at advanced synchrotron beamlines. By collecting diffraction and spectroscopic data from every sample and X-ray pulse, we are able to correlated electron density maps and their refined atomic models with electronic structures emanating from active site atoms responsible for catalysis in metalloenzymes. These correlations reduce ambiguity in interpreting electron density maps and support time-resolved studies of reactive intermediates during enzyme turnover.