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Seven gadolinium complexes are shown to be excellent compounds for the preparation of heavy-atom derivatives for macromolecular crystallography projects. De novo phasing has been carried out using single-wavelength anomalous diffraction (SAD) on a series of gadolinium-derivative crystals of two proteins: hen egg-white lysozyme and urate oxidase from Aspergillus flavus. Lysozyme derivative crystals were obtained by co-crystallizing the protein with the corresponding gadolinium complex at a concentration of 100 mM. Diffraction data were collected to a resolution of 1.7 Å using Cu Kα radiation from a rotating-anode generator, making use of the high anomalous signal of gadolinium at this wavelength. Urate oxidase derivative crystals were obtained by soaking native crystals in 100 mM gadolinium complex solutions. Diffraction data were collected to a resolution close to 3 Å using X-rays at the Gd LIII absorption edge, taking advantage of the sharp white line on that edge. For all urate oxidase derivative crystals and three of the lysozyme crystals, SAD phasing led to electron-density maps of very high quality, allowing unambiguous chain tracing. From this study, the binding effectiveness of the gadolinium complexes seems to be related to the nature of the precipitant used for crystallization. These gadolinium complexes represent a new class of high-phasing-power heavy-atom derivatives that may be used for high-throughput structure-determination projects.

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