The MPIB Crystallization Facility provides state-of-the-art structural biology infrastructure for researchers working at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry as well as co-operation partners at several research institutes in the Munich area. The MPIB Crystallization Facility currently performs about 6500 crystallization experiments per year and is used by 25 research groups. The Crystallization Facility is hosted and managed by the Department of Structural Cell Biology.
The Facility provides a comprehensive crystallization service, automating every step of the crystallization process:
1) Sample quality control
- Assessment of purity by SDS-PAGE gel
- Assessment of concentration by spectrophotometry (Nanodrop)
- Optionally, assessment of monodispersity/aggregation by static light scattering (Viscotek)
2) Initial screenings
- Crystallization screens are set up as sitting-drop vapour diffusion experiments in a 96-well plate format. The protein samples are dispensed in 0.1 μl drops with a nanoliter crystalization robot (Phoenix).
- 25 commercial and in-house crystallization screens are available, providing more than 2000 different mixtures of buffers, precipitating agents and additives.
3) Automated visualization
- Crystallization drops are imaged over 5 weeks at regular time intervals. Three Xtal-Focus visualization systems are operated in temperature-controlled rooms (at 4°C and 19°C) and are based on the combination of a Leica/ Zeiss microscopes with a automated storage cabinet.
4) In-situ diffraction test
- Upon request, crystal hits are tested in the original 96-well crystallization plate using a PX Scanner to assess diffraction quality or to distinguish between protein and salt.
- Refinement of the initial crystallization conditions using fine grid screens is carried out using a Tecan Evo 200/8 needles liquid handling station.
- A wide range of stock solutions is available. A database is used to manage and keep track of more than three hundred chemicals. These solutions are the same used for preparing the in-house made screens and ideal for optimizing crystals around the original condition.