hrp1000 at cus.cam.ac.uk
Thu Sep 5 04:51:50 EST 1996
On Wed, 4 Sep 1996, H.C. Whitaker wrote:
> I wonder if anyone can help me? Can anyone explain to me (in laymans
> terms please!) what exactly is happening when phase separation occurs
> in the drop when attempting to crystallise a protein?
In layman's terms;
If you have a solution that is unsaturated in the protein, it stays in
solution. If it is concentrated so that it is at least saturated (and in
the absence of any nuclei, e.g. shards of glass, bits of beard... often
supersaturated) the protein will start to precipitate. If the
precipitation process is done carefully, the precipitation will be in the
form of crystals.
The drop contains the protein in solution. The reservoir contains pretty
much the same solution with two major differences;
(1) it doesn't contain protein
(2) it's more concentrated in at least one of the other components.
The solvent in the drop will tend to migrate from the drop to the
reservoir (tending towards an equilibrium, i.e. the concentrations of
the drop and reservoir will tend to equalize), so the concentration of
everything in the drop increases, (hopefully) past the saturation point,
Dr Harry Powell
University Chemical Laboratory
More information about the Xtal-log