Installation for growing protein crystals under terrestrial and space conditions with active crystallization process control
Crystallization of biomaterials is necessary in biology and medicine for determination of spatial structures of organic molecules by crystallographic methods that further allows to carry out the synthesis of new substances having the desired properties, and to solve some fundamental problems offunctioning live systems in general. One of the major factors determining success of this research is the processes of biocrystal growth implemented not only during earth-based experiments, but also in space. A method of temperature controlling protein crystallization processes is much more technologically advanced and more effective for growing highly perfect crystals in comparison with traditional methods. In this method convection in the solution is excluded, and the influence of vibration on the crystallization process is virtually eliminated. This way in terrestrial conditions the best possible approximation to the diffusion conditions of heat and mass transfer in the protein solution is ensured, and in the space environment the diffusion mode is achieved, i.e., conditions of protein macromolecule self-organization are provided during their embedding into a crystal lattice. Thus the process of macromolecule crystallization becomes controllable and reproducible. Based on the analysis performed it has been concluded that the automated equipment with temperature controlling processes of nu-cleation and crystallization of proteins, as the most effective for highly perfect protein crystals, should be created. On the basis of developed simple in design and low-massdimensional crystallization apparatus a series of experiments on the successful growth of high-quality protein crystals of lysozyme has been carried out.
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