551-1556-00L  Macromolecular Structure Determination Using Modern Methods

SemesterSpring Semester 2021
LecturersK. Locher, R. Irobalieva, J. Kowal, G. Schertler
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish
CommentNumber of participants limited to 11 in the 3rd semester quarter of the spring semester

Number of participants limited to 12 in the 4th semester quarter of the spring semester

The block course will only take place with a minimum of 4 participants.

The enrolment is done by the D-BIOL study administration.

General safety regulations for all block courses:
-Whenever possible the distance rules have to be respected
-All students have to wear masks throughout the course. Please keep reserve masks ready. Surgical masks (IIR) or medical grade masks (FFP2) without a valve are permitted. Community masks (fabric masks) are not allowed.
-The installation and activation of the Swiss Covid-App is highly encouraged
-Any additional rules for individual courses have to be respected
-Students showing any COVID-19 symptoms are not allowed to enter ETH buildings and have to inform the course responsible


AbstractThis course will expose the students to two prominent techniques for high-resolution structural characterization of biological macromolecules. The students will have the opportunity to get hands-on experience in either cryo-electron microscopy (ETH) or X-ray crystallography (PSI).
ObjectiveThe goal of this course is to introduce the students to the principles of high-resolution structure determination. Students will conduct hands-on experiments and use computational techniques for data processing.
ContentAt the ETH the students will prepare and vitrify a protein and then image it on a cryo-TEM. Next, the students will process the data and build an atomic model into the EM map.

At the PSI the students will purify and crystallize a membrane protein, collect X-ray diffraction data using synchrotron X-ray source or with cryo-EM, analyze and build an atomic model into a density map. They will refine this model and interpret and illustrate the determined structure. The course work is trying to present insights in the use of structural information. The course also includes a demonstration of the Synchrotron capabilities at the Paul Scherrer Institute (SLS).
Prerequisites / NoticeThe students will be split into two groups for the practical part of the work: One group will work at ETH Hönggerberg, the other at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) at Villigen. All students will spend one full day at the PSI for a tour of the facilities, including a visit of the synchrotron beam lines of the Swiss Light Source SLS.

The students joining the ETH Hönggerberg group will spend the majority of the time on data processing and are therefore expected to have some basic knowledge of bash terminal commands. Basic physics, optics and linear algebra knowledge is also helpful. By the end of the course, the students will be expected to understand concepts such as the difference between Fourier and real space, image formation, contrast transfer, fast Fourier transfer and Fourier shell correlation.