September 16, 2009 06:49
Protein crystals often form at air/water interfaces, on the container wall or on dust that's present in the crystallization drop. Why not expand this concept and throw some sand, horse hair or seaweed into crystallization setups? That's exactly what Thakur et al. have done and describe in their PLOS paper. While Allan d'Arcy has previously published on the use of natural seeding materials for nucleation of protein crystallization, this paper describes a systematic study to improve the success of sparse matrix protein crystallization screening with heterogenous nucleating agents. They find that hydroxyapatite, cellulose, horse hair and dried seaweed promote crystal formation. This apparently works even better once you combine all of these particles in a cocktail. The authors encourage crystallizers to further explore and identify even better materials for this purpose.
How about a few springkles of sawdust, dandruff or couscous? I suppose that this is one of those cases where "who crystallizes is right".
All the best,