NMR and X-ray crystallography, complementary tools in structural proteomics of small proteins

J Am Chem Soc. 2005 Nov 30;127(47):16512-7. doi: 10.1021/ja053565+.


NMR spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography, the two primary experimental methods for protein structure determination at high resolution, have different advantages and disadvantages in terms of sample preparation and data collection and analysis. It is therefore of interest to assess their complementarity when applied to small proteins. Structural genomics/proteomics projects provide an ideal opportunity to make such comparisons as they generate data in a systematic manner for large enough numbers of proteins to allow firm conclusions to be drawn. Here we report a comparison for 263 unique proteins screened by both NMR spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography in our structural proteomics pipeline. Only 21 targets (8%) were deemed amenable to both methods based on an initial 2D 15N-HSQC NMR spectrum and optimized crystallization trials. However, the use of both methods in the pipeline increased the total number of targets amenable to structure determination to 107, with 43 amenable to NMR only and 43 amenable to X-ray crystallographic methods only. We did not observe a correlation between 15N-HSQC spectral quality and the success of the same protein in crystallization screens. Similar results were found for an independent set of 159 proteins as reported in the accompanying paper by Snyder et al. Thus, we conclude that both methods are highly complementary, and in order to increase the number of proteins suited for structure determination, we suggest that both methods be used in parallel in screening of all small proteins for structure determination.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Crystallography, X-Ray*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteomics*


  • Proteins