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Radiation damage inflicted during diffraction data collection in macromolecular crystallography has re-emerged in the last decade as a major experimental and computational challenge, as even for crystals held at 100 K it can result in severe data-quality degradation and the appearance in solved structures of artefacts which affect biological interpretations. Here, the observable symptoms and basic physical processes involved in radiation damage are described and the concept of absorbed dose as the basic metric against which to monitor the experimentally observed changes is outlined. Investigations into radiation damage in macromolecular crystallography are ongoing and the number of studies is rapidly increasing. The current literature on the subject is compiled as a resource for the interested researcher.

Original publication




Journal article


Acta Crystallogr D Biol Crystallogr

Publication Date





339 - 351


Crystallography, X-Ray, Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation, Models, Molecular, Protein Structure, Tertiary, Proteins, X-Rays