In previous posts I have discussed methods to grow crystals and how to monitor their growth. Yet, in many cases the first screen(s) trials will not yield any protein crystals. In such a case, what strategies one should explore on the path for protein crystals? In this and later posts I will discuss these rescue strategies and how they can help in improving your chance to obtain a protein crystal. Today, I will be discussing a rational biochemical approach to determine the boundaries of domains.
Crystallography for beginners – part 6a – what to do when the protein doesn’t crystallize? introduction to Limited proteolysis
Crystallography for beginners – part 5 – monitoring and evaluating crystallization experiments results
So, you’ve set your first plate(s) as I have detailed in my previous post about setting up crystallization plates. That’s great, yet this is only the first half of a crystallization experiment. Now you need to monitor for crystal growth and interpret the result of the crystallization experiments so you know which future experiment to setup to obtain crystals (unless you’re lucky and already obtained a crystal in the initial experiment). It might sound like the fun part yet this step is crucial for obtaining crystals when those don’t come so easily (which is the case for most proteins).
You have purified your protein and you’re ready for your first protein crystallization experiment. In this post I will give you step by step instructions how to set your first protein crystallization experiment.
Some of you must be curious about the science behind protein crystallization. Well, to the astonishment of many novices in the field, protein crystallization is an empirical science, even after so many years of research and no complete knowledge of protein crystallization exist. It does sometimes can be more art than science which demands minute observational capabilities, experience, persistence and gut feelings. These abilities and the knowledge of your protein’s characteristics will get you closer to crystallizing it much faster than a library full of text books on crystallography.
In the previous post I have introduced non-crystallographers into evaluating whether their project is worthy of exploring in crystallography. Assuming you’re project is appropriate and you have the resources needed, read on for a primer on protein crystallography from protein to crystals.
Talking about productivity: Labguru in the academy
At a small symposium held recently by Merck-Serono, Israel Makov, chairman of several Israeli biotech companies, have given a lecture about the challenges of biopharma in the coming years. He commented that the problem with current biopharma’s R&D is not the lack of knowledge, but rather the lack of productivity. Productivity, he stated, is maximized when you’re interacting with other people, especially with those coming from different disciplines (and big pharma companies rarely interact with their competitors).
This discussion led me pondering over the productivity level in which academic research is conducted and how it can be improved. While academia is known for its knowledge sharing, cooperation and multidisciplinary research it is still lacks the productivity observed in the industry. Why so?