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Protein crystallography without crystals?

December 2015. Structure determination by protein crystallography is limited by the ability of proteins to crystallize.  Since many proteins cannot be crystallized, high resolution X-ray structure information is often missing. Masato Akutus from the Buchmann Institute of Molecular Life Sciences has won funding from the Volkswagen Stiftung to develop a novel and rapid approach for structure determination by making use of a molecular framework for protein crystallization. If successful this approach would eliminate the need to crystallize proteins in the conventional way but still provide high-resolution structural information. The molecular framework will act like a molecular sieve, which will trap proteins. It should then be possible to determine the structure of the protein in complex with the sieve. Such a new approach would open a universal, easy, fast and low sample consuming approach that would eliminate the biggest hurdle of protein crystallography.


Masato Akutsu
Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences
Goethe University Frankfurt
Max von Laue Str. 15
60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany