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J Am Chem Soc. 2006 Mar 15;128(10):3142-3.

A microfluidic device for kinetic optimization of protein crystallization and in situ structure determination.

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Department of Applied Physics, California Institute of Technology, 1200 East California Boulevard, Pasadena, California 91125, USA.


The unprecedented economies of scale and unique mass transport properties of microfluidic devices made them viable nano-volume protein crystallization screening platforms. However, realizing the full potential of microfluidic crystallization requires complementary technologies for crystal optimization and harvesting. In this paper, we report a microfluidic device which provides a link between chip-based nanoliter volume crystallization screening and structure analysis through "kinetic optimization" of crystallization reactions and in situ structure determination. Kinetic optimization through systematic variation of reactor geometry and actuation of micromechanical valves is used to screen a large ensemble of kinetic trajectories that are not practical with conventional techniques. Using this device, we demonstrate control over crystal quality, reliable scale-up from nanoliter volume reactions, facile harvesting and cryoprotectant screening, and protein structure determination at atomic resolution from data collected in-chip.

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