Macromolecular X-ray Analysis Facility

The Macromolecular X-ray Analysis Facility is located on the fourth floor of the Bellini Building in the Life Sciences Complex. The equipment in the Facility has grown considerably over the last 10 years, reflecting the tremendous expansion in the numbers of X-ray crystallographers at McGill. Early CFI investments were matched by provincial and institutional contributions for the acquisition of a second diffraction system in 2009. The newer instrument has a high brilliance beam and charge-coupled device (CCD) camera that provides near synchrotron performance for screening and full data acquisition. The facility is the only open-access X-ray diffraction platform available to academic researchers in Quebec. In addition to diffraction equipment, the platform includes an Anton Paar small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) camera. About two-thirds of operating time on the diffraction instruments is used by the structural biology groups in the Life Sciences Complex and one-third by other groups at McGill, Montreal Neurological Institute, Université de Montréal, Université Concordia and Université Laval. The SAXS instrument has had a large number of users from outside of Quebec.

High-Throughput Crystallization Platform

The High-Throughput Crystallization Platform is integrated with the adjoining Macromolecular X-ray Analysis Facility. A critical step in determining three-dimensional structures of proteins is the generation of crystals of the protein studied. Despite significant progress in the methods of crystallization, crystal generation remains a trial and error process, requiring analysis of thousands of conditions. The platform provides the infrastructure necessary for high-throughput analysis of hundreds of simultaneous crystallization conditions, with robots for dispensing drops of crystallization, a storage station, viewing with Internet access and equipment for the protein analysis. The current instrumentation will be upgraded next year with the addition of a third liquid handling robot and a second state-of-the-art incubator with in situ UV imaging of growing protein crystals.

Analysis of Protein-Protein Interactions

The characterization of interactions between biological macromolecules is an essential step in the structural analysis of complexes of biomolecules, whether for a preliminary characterization of affinity or a thorough analysis of the thermodynamic parameters of a reaction. The Protein-Protein Interactions platform is located across several rooms in the Bellini Life Sciences Complex and comprises two isothermal titration calorimeters (ITC) for measuring binding affinities, multiangle and dynamic light scattering instruments for characterizing protein molecular mass, mass spectrometers, a circular dichroism spectrometer for determining protein secondary structure, and several fluorometers for measuring binding affinities and protein stability.

Quebec/ Eastern Canada High Field NMR Facility (QANUC)

QANUC was established in 2004 to manage NMR infrastructure at McGill University. The platform is in the Pulp & Paper Building, adjacent to the McGill Department of Chemistry, and currently has two on-site spectrometers, operating at 800 MHz and 500 MHz, as well as a 600 MHz spectrometer located in the Bellini Building of the Life Sciences Complex. All three instruments have cold probes for the highest sensitivity possible and are capable of characterizing proteins with the highest level of isotopic labeling (2H/13C/15N) for studies of protein dynamics and structure. QANUC has had outstanding success in garnering a broad base of users and operational support. Approximately 50% of usage of the 800 MHz spectrometer and 65% usage of the 500 MHz spectrometer is by McGill researchers in the Faculties of Science and Medicine, with the remainder by users from outside institutions. Website

Coordination with other Research Centres at McGill University

Facility for Electron Microscopy Research (FEMR)

FEMR is a technology-based centre with the mission of promoting and advancing the science and practice of electron microscopic imaging and analysis. FEMR has ideal infrastructure for analysis of biological macromolecules, including high-end transmission electron microscopes (TEMs) and a revolutionary direct electron detector. There is strong cooperation between FEMR and the CSB, with support in funding and excellent access to complementary equipment. Many CSB members routinely use the electron microscopy equipment at FEMR in their research. The CSB helps promote FEMR’s mission of supporting innovative research in the areas of biological, life, material, and physical sciences using electron microscopy. Website

Furthermore, the CSB and CSB researchers have established collaborations with other research centres and equipment facilities which promote infrastructure sharing and development of interdisciplinary research teams across McGill University, including:

Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre 

Cystic Fibrosis Translational Research Centre

Complex Traits Group

Microbiome and Disease Tolerance Centre

Centre for Self-Assembled Chemical Structures