Perfect Crystals: microgravity capillary counterdiffusion crystallization of human manganese superoxide dismutase for neutron crystallography

William E. Lutz, Jahaun Azadmanesh, Jeffrey J. Lovelace, Carol Kolar, Leighton Coates, Kevin L. Weiss, Gloria E.O. Borgstahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The NASA mission Perfect Crystals used the microgravity environment on the International Space Station (ISS) to grow crystals of human manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD)—an oxidoreductase critical for mitochondrial vitality and human health. The mission’s overarching aim is to perform neutron protein crystallography (NPC) on MnSOD to directly visualize proton positions and derive a chemical understanding of the concerted proton electron transfers performed by the enzyme. Large crystals that are perfect enough to diffract neutrons to sufficient resolution are essential for NPC. This combination, large and perfect, is hard to achieve on Earth due to gravity-induced convective mixing. Capillary counterdiffusion methods were developed that provided a gradient of conditions for crystal growth along with a built-in time delay that prevented premature crystallization before stowage on the ISS. Here, we report a highly successful and versatile crystallization system to grow a plethora of crystals for high-resolution NPC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number39
Journalnpj Microgravity
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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