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Protein Sci. 2010 Oct;19(10):1840-9. doi: 10.1002/pro.468.

Determination of the X-ray structure of the snake venom protein omwaprin by total chemical synthesis and racemic protein crystallography.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.


The 50-residue snake venom protein L-omwaprin and its enantiomer D-omwaprin were prepared by total chemical synthesis. Radial diffusion assays were performed against Bacillus megaterium and Bacillus anthracis; both L- and D-omwaprin showed antibacterial activity against B. megaterium. The native protein enantiomer, made of L-amino acids, failed to crystallize readily. However, when a racemic mixture containing equal amounts of L- and D-omwaprin was used, diffraction quality crystals were obtained. The racemic protein sample crystallized in the centrosymmetric space group P2(1)/c and its structure was determined at atomic resolution (1.33 A) by a combination of Patterson and direct methods based on the strong scattering from the sulfur atoms in the eight cysteine residues per protein. Racemic crystallography once again proved to be a valuable method for obtaining crystals of recalcitrant proteins and for determining high-resolution X-ray structures by direct methods.

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