Sample Preparation and Characterisation Facility

Protein crystallisation

EMBL Hamburg has established a fully automated platform for the high-throughput crystallization of biological macromolecules in order to address a common bottleneck in x-ray crystallography. The HTP platform offers a wide range of crystallization screening conditions and flexible methods have been developed to adapt each step to individual project requirements. The services are available to the general user community.

Access the SPC crystallisation platform (CRIMS) here.

The SPC facility crystallization devices include:

  • Mosquito-LCP equiped with active humidity chamber (TTPlabtech)
  • RockImager-1000 (Formulatrix, 19°C) and RockImager182 (Formulatrix, 4°C)
  • Scorpion screen builder (ArtRobbins Instrument)
  • Liquidator96 (Mettler Toledo)
  • Automated plate sealer (JB Bioanalytik)

High throughput soluble protein crystallization

  • Vapour diffusion crystallization screening in hanging and sitting drop
  • Low volume handling for seeding and additives
  • Low volume crystallization screening (100nl protein sample + 100nl crystallization screen)
  • >30 commercial screens (sparse matrix, grid screen, additive screen, alternative screen)

High throughput membrane protein crystallization

  • Accessories for LCP preparation onsite available (LCP syringe, Syringe coupling, LCP mixer, incubator)
  • Automatic setup of crystallization trays using Mosquito-LCP
  • Default protocol for LCP experiment: 80nl LCP/protein solution + 800nl crystallization screen
  • Commercial screens available for membrane protein and LCP experiments
  • Individual training for LCP preparation available on demand

Automated imaging and results available remotely

  • Crystallization plates are stored at 19°C  or at 4 °C in our RockImagers.
  • Automated inspection includes inspection up to 3 months. Users can customized inspection schedule on demand.
  • Possibility to have imaging using Vis/UV to distinguish between protein and salt crystals.
  • Pictures along with all the experimental parameters accessible remotely through the web-based Crystallization Information Management System (password protected).

Optional quality control on in-coming samples

The identification of crystallisation conditions for biological molecules largely relies on a trial-and-error process in which a number of parameters are explored in large screening experiments. A significant effort is dedicated to sample characterization and quality-control experiments in order to identify at an early stage and prioritize those samples which would be more likely to crystallize.

The SPC facility can perform MALDI-TOF analysis, thermal denaturation assay, nanoDSF or DLS on samples submitted to the HTP crystallization platform on request. These methods provide additional information to the users which can be used to optimize protein stability and determine optimal temperatures for crystallization experiments.