Pilot call for chemical and biodeuteration support from the DEMAX platform

Photo: ESS

The Deuteration and Macromolecular Crystallisation (DEMAX) platform at ESS supports neutron users from the soft matter, biology, life sciences and chemistry research areas. The neutron techniques that these communities typically use include small angle scattering, reflectometry, single crystal diffraction, and spectroscopy. For steady state ESS operations, DEMAX is currently developing three areas of support: Biological deuteration (e.g. cell paste, soluble proteins, lipids, membranes), Chemical deuteration (e.g. small organic molecules, surfactants, phospholipids), and Crystallisation (large protein crystal growth).

During 2019 - 2020 DEMAX issued two pilot calls for deuteration support in order to develop methods and user service procedures further while establishing the deuteration laboratories and capabilities.

DEMAX is now opening another pilot call, with a focus on chemical and biological deuteration proposals. Access to protein crystallisation and bio-deuterated purified lipid extracts is not included in this round, but we welcome Expressions of Interest (EoI) for such materials. We may accept these later, provided if there is sufficient time and capacity in the production cycle.

The deadline for proposal submission is 5 March 2022.
Following internal and external reviews (technical and scientific), users will be notified of acceptance of their proposals by early May 2022.
Work on accepted proposals will occur between June 2022 - December 2023.
We will aim to deliver first molecules/support after September 2022.

The user portal has been updated and is available for registration and proposal submission: https://useroffice.ess.eu

Proposals can be submitted to request the following materials and services:

E. coli cell paste (protein expression strains e.g. Tuner DE3, BL21 DE3)
Algal cell paste (Botryococcus braunii)
Yeast cell paste (Pichia pastoris)
Recombinant protein expression with user supplied plasmid (standard strains: Tuner DE3, BL21 etc)
Deuterated plasmid DNA

Chemical deuteration:
Small organic molecules (e.g. sodium pyruvate, D- or L-lactic acid)
Lipids (e.g. chain-deuterated POPC, SOPC, POPE)
Surfactants (sugar-based or other)
Other small organic molecules (please ask and we will do a feasibility assessment to see what is possible)

Expression of Interest can be submitted for the following molecules/services:

Support for large protein crystal growth of either protiated or deuterated proteins (incl. testing with X-rays)

Biological lipid mixtures:
Total lipid extract from yeast (Pichia pastoris)
Total Phospholipid extract (Pichia pastoris)
Feasibility tests for the purification of specific yeast lipid classes (e.g. PC, PE, cardiolipin, ergosterol) from Pichia Pastoris

During this pilot phase we do not limit access to DEMAX to ESS member countries. After the pilot phase we will follow the general ESS user access policy. 

Chemistry lab

Photo: ESS

Proposals should demonstrate the intended to use of the materials at an operating neutron scattering facility with a description of the scientific experiment to be carried out and the need for the requested service. This can be done by demonstrating awarded beam time, a submitted proposal, or a strong intention for applying for beam time (i.e. a draft proposal), as well as a track record of past awarded neutron beam time. All proposals will be reviewed for safety, feasibility, and technical issues, followed by external scientific peer review.

Services/materials supplied for accepted proposals during the DEMAX pilot phase are offered free of charge, but shipping and handling may be charged to the user for dangerous goods (e.g. dry ice). For any eventual publications involving material or support provided by us, please see our publication requirements in the portal.

We strongly encourage applicants to communicate with DEMAX to discuss their proposal and requirements before submitting a request.

We look forward to hearing from you!
The DEMAX Team