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Structure. 2004 Apr;12(4):529-35.

Rational protein crystallization by mutational surface engineering.

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  • Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA 22908 USA. zsd4n@virginia.edu


Protein crystallization constitutes a limiting step in structure determination by X-ray diffraction. Even if single crystals are available, inadequate physical quality may seriously limit the resolution of the available data and consequently the accuracy of the atomic model. Recent studies show that targeted mutagenesis of surface patches containing residues with large flexible side chains and their replacement with smaller amino acids lead to effective preparation of X-ray quality crystals of proteins otherwise recalcitrant to crystallization. Furthermore, this technique can also be used to obtain crystals of superior quality as compared to those grown for the wild-type protein, sometimes increasing the effective resolution by as much as 1 A or more. Several recent examples of this new methodology suggest that the method has the potential to become a routine tool in protein crystallography.

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