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J Struct Biol. 2003 Apr;142(1):88-97.

The protein as a variable in protein crystallization.

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  • 1Morphochem AG, WRO-1055/338, Schwarzwaldallee 215, CH-4058, Basel, Switzerland. <>


Strategies for growing protein crystals have for many years been essentially empirical, the protein, once purified to a certain homogeneity, being mixed with a selection of crystallization agents selected in a more or less trial-and-error fashion. Screening for the correct conditions has been made easier through automation and by the introduction of commercially available crystallization kits. Many parameters can be changed in these experiments, such as temperature, pH, and ionic strength, but perhaps the most important variable has been ignored, namely the protein. The crystallization properties of a protein vary greatly: some crystallize readily, whereas others have proven extremely difficult or even impossible to obtain in a crystalline state. The possibility of altering the intrinsic characteristics of a protein for crystallization has become a feasible strategy. Some historical perspectives and advances in this area will be reviewed.

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