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Annu Rev Biophys. 2010;39:139-58. doi: 10.1146/annurev.biophys.050708.133630.

Protein crystallization using microfluidic technologies based on valves, droplets, and SlipChip.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


To obtain protein crystals, researchers must search for conditions in multidimensional chemical space. Empirically, thousands of crystallization experiments are carried out to screen various precipitants at multiple concentrations. Microfluidics can manipulate fluids on a nanoliter scale, and it affects crystallization twofold. First, it miniaturizes the experiments that can currently be done on a larger scale and enables crystallization of proteins that are available only in small amounts. Second, it offers unique experimental approaches that are difficult or impossible to implement on a larger scale. Ongoing development of microfluidic techniques and their integration with protein production, characterization, and in situ diffraction promises to accelerate the progress of structural biology.

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