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Protein Crystal Growth With the Aid of MicrofluidicsProtein crystallography is one of three well-known methods to obtain the structure of proteins. A major rate limiting step in protein crystallography is protein crystal nucleation and growth, which is still largely a process conducted by trial-and-error methods. Many attempts have been made to improve protein crystal growth by performing growth in microgravity. Although the use of microgravity appears to improve crystal quality in some attempts, this method has been inefficient because several reasons: we lack a fundamental understanding of macromolecular crystal growth in general and of the influence of microgravity in particular, we have to start with crystal growth conditions in microgravity based on conditions on the ground and finally the hardware does not allow for experimental iteration without reloading samples on the ground. To partially accommodate the disadvantages of the current hardware, we have used microfluidic technology (Lab-on-a-Chip devices) to design the concept of a more efficient crystallization device, suitable for use on the International Space Station and in high-throughput applications on the ground. The concept and properties of microfluidics, the application design process, and the advances in protein crystal growth hardware will be discussed in this presentation. Some examples of proteins crystallized in the new hardware will be discussed, including the differences between conventional crystallization versus crystallization in microfluidics.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
vanderWoerd, Mark
(Universities Space Research Association Huntsville, AL, United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2003
Subject Category
Nonmetallic Materials
Meeting Information
Meeting: Materials and Crystal Growth Seminar
Location: Huntsville, AL
Country: United States
Start Date: December 16, 2002
Sponsors: Universities Space Research Association, Alabama Univ.
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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