The Macromolecular X-ray Crystallography Facility

The macromolecular crystallography facility allows users to solve 3-dimensional structures of proteins using X-rays. The facility consists of the equipment and resources required to produce crystals of macromolecules (single proteins, protein:protein complexes, nucleoprotein complexes, proteins in complex with ligands) and collect the X-ray diffraction pattern data from single crystals.

Crystal Screening

The facility is equipped with a Mosquito LCP nanodrop crystallisation robot from SPT Labtech. It is ideal for screening many crystallisation conditions with a minimal amount of protein. We routinelly commence screening with 2 sparse matrix screens from Molecular Dimensions (Structure I + II, Morpheus and JCSG plus) and a systematic grid screen (PACT). Additionally we find Index from Hampton Research fairly successful with our projects.

The Crystallisation Room

The main crystallisation room is at a controlled temperature of 20 degrees C. It provides ample storage for crystal trays and a work bench. For crystal visualisation and manipulation, two Nikon stereo microscopes are provided. They are equipped with cold light sources and polarising filters. One of the microscopes is also fitted with a digital camera and a 17 inch monitor. Check out our crystal pictures and movies taken with this camera. The facility also provides two RUMED vibration free crystallisation incubators at 4 and 14 degrees C.

Plate hotel at 4 degrees C

We have invested in a Rigaku Minstrel and Gallery, a system for automated visualisation – through a digital microscope – and storage of crystallisation plates. The Minstrel is programmed to make regular inspections of users’ trays in the Gallery, and the photomicrographs can be inspected over the internet.

The X-ray generator

We are equipped with a MetalJet D2 from Bruker, housed within a D8 enclosure. Our cryojet is a cryostream 700 from Oxfordcryosystems. To increase the speed and easy the sample mounting the Metaljet is equiped with the sample loading robot Scout from Bruker.

Crystal handling

We have two long-term storage dewars, and 5 dry shippers for transporting crystals to synchrotron facilities. Crystals can be sent in vials and canes, but we mostly send a set of Unipucks compatible with our home source and Diamond Light Source sample changer.