Phase Improvement

  • Jan Drenth
Part of the Springer Advanced Texts in Chemistry book series (SATC)


After a first set of protein phases is obtained with the isomorphous replacement method, the molecular replacement method, or the multiple wavelength anomalous dispersion method and an electron density map calculated, the next step is the interpretation of the map in terms of the polypeptide chain. If this is successful and the major part of the chain can indeed be followed in the electron density map, refinement of the structure can begin. However, insufficient quality of the electron density map might hamper a complete and unambiguous tracing of the polypeptide chain, increasing the risk of introducing errors in the model, which cannot be easily removed during refinement. In such a case refinement should be preceded by a process to improve the quality of the map through improvement of the protein phase angles. During phase improvement, all available information on the structure should be used. This information may be in one of the following forms:
  1. 1.

    The structure is partially known.

  2. 2.

    The protein molecules distinguish themselves as relatively high regions of electron density and their boundaries can be estimated. The electron density between them is then set to a constant value.

  3. 3.

    Noncrystallographic symmetry within the asymmetric unit is present and is known from molecular replacement. As in 2, molecular boundaries must then be determined and the solvent region set to a constant value. Moreover, the density of all molecules (or subunits of a molecule) related by noncrystallographic symmetry is averaged.



Phase Angle Phase Information Density Modification Phase Improvement Solvent Region 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Drenth
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Biophysical ChemistryGroningenThe Netherlands

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