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Science, People & Politics, issue 3, Volume i, VII, 4th May 2009.

precipitation during crystal formation poor crystals crystals perfect crystal diffraction pattern

Above from left: results of crystallisation experiments - precipitation, poor crystals, crystals and a perfect crystal leading to diffraction patterns (A and B above), resolvable by mathematics into atomic positions in the protein as shown below left (A and B). And below right an aerial shot of the machinery that makes this possible -- Diamond.

atoms in place Diamond light source

Cystallisation robot: preparing 2000 experiments in less than three hours.

a crystallisation robot that can prepare 2000 
crystallisation experiments in less than three hours

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6. Bergfors, T., Protein Crystallisation, Second Edition, 2009, Publishers: International University Line.

7. Iwata, S., Methods and Results in Crystallisation of Membrane Proteins, 2003, International University Line.

8. Weyand S, Shimamura T, Yajima S, Suzuki S, Mirza O, Krusong K, Carpenter EP, Rutherford NG, Hadden JM, O'Reilly J, et al.: Structure and molecular mechanism of a nucleobase-cation-symport-1 family transporter. Science 2008, 322:709-713

9. Carpenter, E.P., Beis, K., Cameron, A.D., Iwata, S., Overcoming the challenges of membrane protein crystallography, 2008, Current Opinion in Structural Biology 2008, 18: 581-586.

Liz Carpenter is a research fellow at Imperial College, London and a group leader in the Membrane Protein Laboratory at Diamond. So Iwata, who holds the David Blow chair of biophysics at Imperial College, London, directs the laboratory. The group has solved 12 of the total of 170 known membrane protein structures. The research team also trains membrane protein scientists who want to learn about crystallography and crystallographers who want to learn about working with membrane proteins. Some 25 research groups in Europe use the laboratory, which is a collaboration including Imperial College, the Wellcome Trust and Diamond Light Source Ltd. For more about the team visit

Words Liz Carpenter© Pictures provided by Liz Carpenter. Design Helen Gavaghan©.
Editing and production, Helen Gavaghan. B.Sc (hons). Biophysics, University of Leeds, 1980.

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