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Modeling the Growth Rates of Tetragonal Lysozyme Crystal FacesThe measured macroscopic growth rates of the (110) and (101) faces of tetragonal lysozyme show an unexpectedly complex dependence on the supersaturation. The growth rates decay asymptotically to zero when the supersaturation is lowered to zero and increase rapidly when the supersaturation is increased. When supersaturations are increased still further the growth rates attain a maximum before starting to decrease. However, growth of these crystals is known to proceed by the classical dislocation and 2D nucleation growth mechanisms. This anomaly can be explained if growth is assumed to occur not by monomer units but by lysozyme aggregates. Analysis of the molecular packing of these crystals revealed that they were constructed of strongly bonded 4(sub 3) helices, while weaker bonds were responsible for binding the helices to each other. It follows that during crystal growth the stronger bonds are formed before the weaker ones. Thus, the growth of these crystals could be viewed as a two step process: aggregate growth units corresponding to the 4(sub 3) helix are first formed in the bulk solution by stronger intermolecular bonds and then attached to the crystal face by weaker bonds on dislocation hillocks or 2D islands. This will lead to a distribution of aggregates in the solution with monomers and lower order aggregates being predominant at low supersaturations and higher order aggregates being predominant at high supersaturations. If the crystal grows mostly by higher order aggregates, such as tetramers and octamers, it would explain the anomalous dependence of the growth rates on the supersaturation. Besides the analysis of molecular packing, a comprehensive analysis of the measured (110) and (101) growth rates was also undertaken in this study. The distribution of aggregates in lysozyme nutrient solutions at various solution conditions were determined from reversible aggregation reactions at equilibrium. The supersaturation was defined for each aggregate species with respect to its concentration at saturation in order to apply growth rate models to this process. The measured growth rates were then compared with the predicted ones from several dislocation and 2D nucleation growth models, employing tetramer and octamer growth units in polydisperse solutions and monomer units in monodisperse solutions. For the (110) face, the calculations consistently showed that the measured growth rates followed the expected model relations with octamer growth units. For the (101) face, it is not possible to obtain a clear agreement between the predicted and measured growth rates for a single growth unit as done for the (110) face. However, the calculations do indicate that the average size of the growth unit is between a tetramer and an octamer. This suggests that tetramers, octamers and other intermediate size growth units all participate in the growth process for this face. These calculations show that it is possible to model the macroscopic protein crystal growth rates if the molecular level processes can be account for, particularly protein aggregation processes in the bulk solution. Our recent investigations of tetragonal lysozyme crystals employing high resolution atomic force microscopy scans have further confirmed the growth of these crystals by aggregate growth units corresponding to 4(sub 3) helices.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Li, Meirong
(Toledo Univ. OH United States)
Nadarajah, Arunan
(Toledo Univ. OH United States)
Pusey, Marc L.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Date Acquired
August 18, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1998
Subject Category
Solid-State Physics
Meeting Information
Meeting: Crystallization of Biological Macromolecules
Location: Granada
Country: Spain
Start Date: May 3, 1998
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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