Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Crystal quest brings success

Study obtains protein structures more efficiently using a combination of techniques

The chances of obtaining crystals of sufficient quality and quantity to allow determination of three-dimensional protein structures using synchrotron radiation are significantly increased using a mix of robots geared to different crystallization techniques.

That is the conclusion of a screening study by researchers in Japan, led by Seiki Kuramistu of RIKEN’s SPring-8 Center in Harima, recently reported in Acta Crystallographica (1).

The work was part of the whole-cell project on the bacterium Thermus thermophilus HB8 (Fig. 1), which is found naturally in hot springs at temperatures of up to 85 °C. The aim of the project is to increase understanding of cells at a molecular level by determining the structures and functions of all proteins encoded by genes. Thermus was chosen as a model organism because it has a minimal set of genes which codes for about 2,000 proteins which are highly stable for analysis and more than 70% of which have human equivalents.

The standard means of determining protein structure, x-ray crystallography, involves aligning protein molecules into a lattice of repeating series of ‘unit cells’, and then passing x-rays through the resulting crystal. The structure of the protein is ‘solved’ by analyzing the resulting diffraction pattern.

But proteins are of irregular shape and the protein lattice is held together only by relatively weak electrostatic forces. So protein crystals are generally fragile and highly sensitive to environmental conditions. These must be adjusted to optimum levels for crystallization. At best it takes several hours to grow crystals suitable for data collection, but typically it takes months. Thus, protein crystallization has proved a major bottleneck in the whole-cell project.

In an attempt to increase efficiency, the researchers used 18 sample proteins from Thermus to test the capabilities of robots which use different techniques to crystallize proteins—sitting-drop vapor diffusion, hanging-drop vapor diffusion and a modified microbatch technique. They also trialed a microfluidic device designed to rapidly determine the best initial conditions, but which could not produce crystals in large enough quantities for diffraction.

The research team found that both vapor diffusion robots produced diffraction-quality crystals quicker than the microbatch robot—the sitting-drop being the faster. The microbatch robot, however, was most likely to be successful. The microfluidic device outperformed the other three on both counts. On the basis of these results the researchers used a combination of a sitting-drop and a microbatch robot to successfully determine structures for 360 of 944 purified proteins for the whole-cell project.

1. Iino, H., Naitow, H., Nakamura, Y., Nakagawa, N., Agari, Y., Kanagawa, M., Ebihara, A., Shinkai, A., Sugahara, M., Miyano, M., et al. Crystallization screening test for the whole-cell project on Thermus thermophilus HB8. Acta Crystallographica F64, 487–491 (2008).

Saeko Okada | ResearchSEA
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>