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Biophys J. Sep 1999; 77(3): 1585–1593.
PMCID: PMC1300446

The effect of temperature and solution pH on the nucleation of tetragonal lysozyme crystals.


Part of the challenge of macromolecular crystal growth for structure determination is obtaining crystals with a volume suitable for x-ray analysis. In this respect an understanding of the effect of solution conditions on macromolecule nucleation rates is advantageous. This study investigated the effects of supersaturation, temperature, and pH on the nucleation rate of tetragonal lysozyme crystals. Batch crystallization plates were prepared at given solution concentrations and incubated at set temperatures over 1 week. The number of crystals per well with their size and axial ratios were recorded and correlated with solution conditions. Crystal numbers were found to increase with increasing supersaturation and temperature. The most significant variable, however, was pH; crystal numbers changed by two orders of magnitude over the pH range 4.0-5.2. Crystal size also varied with solution conditions, with the largest crystals obtained at pH 5.2. Having optimized the crystallization conditions, we prepared a batch of crystals under the same initial conditions, and 50 of these crystals were analyzed by x-ray diffraction techniques. The results indicate that even under the same crystallization conditions, a marked variation in crystal properties exists.

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Selected References

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