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Postcrystallization Analysis of the Irreproducibility of the Human Intrinsic Factor−Cobalamin Complex Crystals

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journal contribution
posted on 07.01.2009, 00:00 by N. Sukumar, F. S. Mathews, M. M. Gordon, S. E. Ealick, D. H. Alpers
Approximately 15% (w/w) of human intrinsic factor (IF) is comprised of carbohydrate side chains, making crystallization problematic. In addition, IF is sensitive to proteolysis. To understand the role of these factors in crystallization, we carried out dynamic light scattering studies and assessed their correlation with crystallization. The packing of the IF−cobalamin complex and the known properties of the protein in solution were also analyzed to explore the irreproducibility of the IF−cobalamin complex crystals and the difficulty in obtaining apo-IF crystals suitable for crystallographic analysis. The results indicate that although glycosylation may in general be inhibitory for crystallization, time-dependent proteolysis appears to play a much more important role in the process of crystallization of IF. Thus, the presence of cobalamin and of domain fragments that can form incomplete dimers lacking one of two β-domains appears to promote the crystallization of IF.