Download citation
Download citation
link to html
The study of temperature-dependent physical changes in flash-cooled macromolecular crystals is pertinent to cryocrystallography and related issues such as crystal annealing, X-ray radiation damage and kinetic crystallography. In this context, the unit-cell volume of flash-cooled trigonal and orthorhombic trypsin crystals has been monitored upon warming from 100 to 200 K and subsequent re-cooling to 100 K. Crystals of both forms were obtained under the same crystallization conditions, yet they differ in solvent content and channel size. An abrupt non-reversible unit-cell volume decrease is observed at 185 K in orthorhombic and at 195 K in trigonal crystals as the temperature is increased; this result is consistent with ultra-viscous solvent leaving the crystals. Concomitant appearance of ice rings in the diffraction patterns suggests that the transported solvent forms crystalline ice. These results demonstrate that solvent in flash-cooled protein crystals is liquid-like near its crystallization temperature, as has been proposed, yet controversially discussed, for the case of pure water. The use of mineral oil prevents the unit-cell volume decrease in trigonal but not in orthorhombic crystals. The observation of liquid-like solvent has implications in the development of annealing protocols and points a way to the rational design of temperature-controlled crystallographic studies that aim either at studying specific radiation damage or at trapping enzymatic intermediate states.

Follow J. Synchrotron Rad.
Sign up for e-alerts
Follow J. Synchrotron Rad. on Twitter
Follow us on facebook
Sign up for RSS feeds