Serial femtosecond crystallography of soluble proteins in lipidic cubic phase

IUCrJ. 2015 Aug 4;2(Pt 5):545-51. doi: 10.1107/S2052252515013160. eCollection 2015 Sep 1.


Serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX) at X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) enables high-resolution protein structure determination using micrometre-sized crystals at room temperature with minimal effects from radiation damage. SFX requires a steady supply of microcrystals intersecting the XFEL beam at random orientations. An LCP-SFX method has recently been introduced in which microcrystals of membrane proteins are grown and delivered for SFX data collection inside a gel-like membrane-mimetic matrix, known as lipidic cubic phase (LCP), using a special LCP microextrusion injector. Here, it is demonstrated that LCP can also be used as a suitable carrier medium for microcrystals of soluble proteins, enabling a dramatic reduction in the amount of crystallized protein required for data collection compared with crystals delivered by liquid injectors. High-quality LCP-SFX data sets were collected for two soluble proteins, lysozyme and phycocyanin, using less than 0.1 mg of each protein.

Keywords: X-ray free-electron laser; lipidic cubic phase; serial femtosecond crystallography; soluble protein.