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Chapter 10: Three-Dimensional Crystallization of Membrane Proteins


    James Féthière


    Although the examination of the protein data bank reveals an important backlog in the number of three-dimensional structures of membrane proteins, several recent successes are serving as preludes to what will become a very prosperous decade in this field. Systematic investigations of various factors affecting the stability of membrane proteins, as well as their potential to crystallize three dimensionally, have paved the way for such achievements. The importance of the role of detergents both at the level of purification and crystallization is now well established. In addition, the recognition of the protein–detergent complex as the entity to crystallize, as well as the understanding of its physical–chemical properties and discovery of factors affecting these, have permitted the design of better crystallization strategies. As a consequence of the various efforts in the field, new crystallization methods for membrane proteins are being implemented. These have already been successful and are expected to contribute significantly to the future successes. This chapter will review some basic principles in membrane protein crystallization and give an overview of the current state of the art in the field. Some practical guidelines to help the novice approach the problem of membrane protein crystallization from the initial step of protein purification to crystallogenesis will also be given.