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      Single mimivirus particles intercepted and imaged with an X-ray laser

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      Nature

      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Abstract

          X-ray lasers offer new capabilities in understanding the structure of biological systems, complex materials and matter under extreme conditions. Very short and extremely bright, coherent X-ray pulses can be used to outrun key damage processes and obtain a single diffraction pattern from a large macromolecule, a virus or a cell before the sample explodes and turns into plasma. The continuous diffraction pattern of non-crystalline objects permits oversampling and direct phase retrieval. Here we show that high-quality diffraction data can be obtained with a single X-ray pulse from a non-crystalline biological sample, a single mimivirus particle, which was injected into the pulsed beam of a hard-X-ray free-electron laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source. Calculations indicate that the energy deposited into the virus by the pulse heated the particle to over 100,000 K after the pulse had left the sample. The reconstructed exit wavefront (image) yielded 32-nm full-period resolution in a single exposure and showed no measurable damage. The reconstruction indicates inhomogeneous arrangement of dense material inside the virion. We expect that significantly higher resolutions will be achieved in such experiments with shorter and brighter photon pulses focused to a smaller area. The resolution in such experiments can be further extended for samples available in multiple identical copies.

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          The 1.2-megabase genome sequence of Mimivirus.

          We recently reported the discovery and preliminary characterization of Mimivirus, the largest known virus, with a 400-nanometer particle size comparable to mycoplasma. Mimivirus is a double-stranded DNA virus growing in amoebae. We now present its 1,181,404-base pair genome sequence, consisting of 1262 putative open reading frames, 10% of which exhibit a similarity to proteins of known functions. In addition to exceptional genome size, Mimivirus exhibits many features that distinguish it from other nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses. The most unexpected is the presence of numerous genes encoding central protein-translation components, including four amino-acyl transfer RNA synthetases, peptide release factor 1, translation elongation factor EF-TU, and translation initiation factor 1. The genome also exhibits six tRNAs. Other notable features include the presence of both type I and type II topoisomerases, components of all DNA repair pathways, many polysaccharide synthesis enzymes, and one intein-containing gene. The size and complexity of the Mimivirus genome challenge the established frontier between viruses and parasitic cellular organisms. This new sequence data might help shed a new light on the origin of DNA viruses and their role in the early evolution of eukaryotes.
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            A giant virus in amoebae.

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              Femtosecond electronic response of atoms to ultra-intense X-rays.

              An era of exploring the interactions of high-intensity, hard X-rays with matter has begun with the start-up of a hard-X-ray free-electron laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS). Understanding how electrons in matter respond to ultra-intense X-ray radiation is essential for all applications. Here we reveal the nature of the electronic response in a free atom to unprecedented high-intensity, short-wavelength, high-fluence radiation (respectively 10(18) W cm(-2), 1.5-0.6 nm, approximately 10(5) X-ray photons per A(2)). At this fluence, the neon target inevitably changes during the course of a single femtosecond-duration X-ray pulse-by sequentially ejecting electrons-to produce fully-stripped neon through absorption of six photons. Rapid photoejection of inner-shell electrons produces 'hollow' atoms and an intensity-induced X-ray transparency. Such transparency, due to the presence of inner-shell vacancies, can be induced in all atomic, molecular and condensed matter systems at high intensity. Quantitative comparison with theory allows us to extract LCLS fluence and pulse duration. Our successful modelling of X-ray/atom interactions using a straightforward rate equation approach augurs favourably for extension to complex systems.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature
                Nature
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                0028-0836
                1476-4687
                February 2011
                February 2 2011
                February 2011
                : 470
                : 7332
                : 78-81
                Article
                10.1038/nature09748
                4038304
                21293374
                © 2011

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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