American Chemical Society
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Miniaturization of the Whole Process of Protein Crystallographic Analysis by a Microfluidic Droplet Robot: From Nanoliter-Scale Purified Proteins to Diffraction-Quality Crystals

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posted on 2019-07-05, 00:00 authored by Jian-Wei Wang, Jie Gao, Hui-Feng Wang, Qiu-Heng Jin, Bing Rao, Wei Deng, Yu Cao, Ming Lei, Sheng Ye, Qun Fang
To obtain diffraction-quality crystals is one of the largest barriers to analyze the protein structure using X-ray crystallography. Here we describe a microfluidic droplet robot that enables successful miniaturization of the whole process of crystallization experiments including large-scale initial crystallization screening, crystallization optimization, and crystal harvesting. The combination of the state-of-the-art droplet-based microfluidic technique with the microbatch crystallization mode dramatically reduces the volumes of droplet crystallization reactors to tens nanoliter range, allowing large-scale initial screening of 1536 crystallization conditions and multifactor crystallization condition optimization with extremely low protein consumption, and on-chip harvesting of diffraction-quality crystals directly from the droplet reactors. We applied the droplet robot in miniaturized crystallization experiments of seven soluble proteins and two membrane proteins, and on-chip crystal harvesting of six proteins. The X-ray diffraction data sets of these crystals were collected using synchrotron radiation for analyzing the structures with similar diffraction qualities as conventional crystallization methods.