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Systematic investigation of protein phase behavior with a microfluidic formulator

Hansen, C.L., Sommer, M.O.A., Quake, S.R.

We demonstrated a microfluidic device for rapidly generating complex mixtures of 32 stock reagents in a 5-nl reactor. This “formulation chip” is fully automated and allows thousands of experiments to be performed in a single day with minimal reagent consumption. It was applied to systematically study the phase behavior of the protein xylanase over a large and complex chemical space. For each chemical formulation that demonstrated a pronounced effect on solubility, the protein phase behavior was completely mapped in the chip, generating a set of empirical phase diagrams. This ab initio phase information was used to devise a rational crystallization screen that resulted in 72-fold improvement in successful crystallization hits compared with conventional sparse matrix screens. This formulations tool allows a physics-based approach to protein crystallization that may prove useful in structural genomics efforts.

Citation

Hansen, C.L., Sommer, M.O.A., Quake, S.R. "Systematic investigation of protein phase behavior with a microfluidic formulator" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2004): 14,431–6