Crystallized thoughts on proteins

The bane of protein crystallographers is the common problem of proteins that simply will not crystallize; this is especially poignant when it comes to some of the more biomedically interesting of their number, such as the numerous membrane proteins, many of which do not succumb to even the most sophisticated crystallization techniques. Now, researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Surrey, both in the UK, have developed a new technique for crystallizing proteins, which could open up a whole range of materials to this powerful analytical technique. Naomi Chayen and colleagues have now successfully used porous BioGlass as novel nucleant to trap and encourage the growth of protein crystals. They found BioGlass induced the crystallisation of the largest number of proteins ever crystallised using a single nucleant, which could open up a whole new tranche of proteins to crystallographic studies.