Lipidic cubic phase injector is a viable crystal delivery system for time-resolved serial crystallography
Serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX) using X-ray free-electron laser sources is an emerging method with considerable potential for time-resolved pump-probe experiments. Here we present a lipidic cubic phase SFX structure of the light-driven proton pump bacteriorhodopsin (bR) to 2.3 Å resolution and a method to investigate protein dynamics with modest sample requirement. Time-resolved SFX (TR-SFX) with a pump-probe delay of 1 ms yields difference Fourier maps compatible with the dark to M state transition of bR. Importantly, the method is very sample efficient and reduces sample consumption to about 1 mg per collected time point. Accumulation of M intermediate within the crystal lattice is confirmed by time-resolved visible absorption spectroscopy. This study provides an important step towards characterizing the complete photocycle dynamics of retinal proteins and demonstrates the feasibility of a sample efficient viscous medium jet for TR-SFX.