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A Test of Macromolecular Crystallization in Microgravity: Large, Well-Ordered Insulin CrystalsCrystals of insulin grown in microgravity on space shuttle mission STS-95 were extremely well-ordered and unusually large (many > 2 mm). The physical characteristics of six microgravity and six earth-grown crystals were examined by X-ray analysis employing superfine f slicing and unfocused synchrotron radiation. This experimental setup allowed hundreds of reflections to be precisely examined for each crystal in a short period of time. The microgravity crystals were on average 34 times larger, had 7 times lower mosaicity, had 54 times higher reflection peak heights and diffracted to significantly higher resolution than their earth grown counterparts. A single mosaic domain model could account for reflections in microgravity crystals whereas reflections from earth crystals required a model with multiple mosaic domains. This statistically significant and unbiased characterization indicates that the microgravity environment was useful for the improvement of crystal growth and resultant diffraction quality in insulin crystals and may be similarly useful for macromolecular crystals in general.
Document ID
Document Type
Preprint (Draft being sent to journal)
Borgstahl, Gloria E. O. (Toledo Univ. OH United States)
Vahedi-Faridi, Ardeschir (Toledo Univ. OH United States)
Lovelace, Jeff (Toledo Univ. OH United States)
Bellamy, Henry D. (Stanford Univ. Stanford, CA United States)
Snell, Edward H. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Whitaker, Ann F.
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
January 12, 2001
Subject Category
Space Processing
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.