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Yeast initiator tRNA crystals exhibit strong X-ray diffuse scattering. This scattering can be used to extract information about lattice-coupled and intramolecular motions in the crystals. The amplitudes and correlation distances of these motions can be estimated by calculating the diffuse scattering and comparing the results with the observed scattering. Results indicate that both anisotropic, lattice-coupled motions as well as short-range correlated local disorder in the anticodon arm contribute to the overall disorder in the crystals. These types of motions can be correlated with aspects of tRNA function. This additional information complements the results from analysis of crystallographic data and provides a more detailed picture of the structure and dynamics of the molecule. The degree to which the methodology presented here can account for the observed diffuse scattering from tRNA represents a significant step forward in the ability to use this conventionally discarded information, and encourages the ultimate extension of these ideas to a wide variety of macromolecular systems.
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