Protein crystallization is an astounding feat of nature. Even though proteins are large, anisotropic molecules with complex, heterogeneous surfaces, they can spontaneously group into two -and three-dimensional arrays with high precision. And yet, the biggest hurdle in this assembly process, the formation of a nucleus, is still poorly understood. In recent years, the two-step nucleation model has emerged as the consensus on the subject, but it still awaits extensive experimental verification. Here we set out to reconstruct the nucleation pathway of the candidate protein glucose isomerase (GI) for which there have been indications that it may follow a two-step nucleation pathway under certain conditions. We find that the precursor phase present during the early stages of the reaction process are nanoscopic crystallites that have lattice symmetry equivalent to the mature crystals found at the end of a crystallization experiment. Our observations underscore the need for experimental data at a lattice resolving resolution on other proteins so that a general picture of protein crystal nucleation can be formed.
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 2021|