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Macromolecular Crystallisation Facility at the PSI

The Macromolecular Crystallisation Facility at the PSI is maintained by the SLS and the BIO division. The facility is situated at the X06DA beamline. We work with scientists from the BIO division, the SLS, the SwissFEL, and elsewhere, to produce and to optimise macromolecular micro- and nano-crystals for x-ray diffraction experiments at the forefront of structural biology.

The facility is equipped for robotic crystallization screening using sitting-drop vapour diffusion or lipidic cubic phase; and to image, analyse, optimise, mount and test crystals grown in those experiments.
We offer different modes of access for different users: we can set up experiments for users who provide macromolecular material, we can provide training in robotic crystallisation screening and imaging for new users who will make regular use of the facility, and we can provide experimental advice to more experienced scientists. Users from within the PSI can book equipment and time using the online booking system and should contact the facility staff for an introduction.
In addition to these services, we are active in research to develop crystallisation methods. A few examples of the questions that we aim to address are:
  • How can we increase the hit rate in our crystal screening?
  • How can we escape unproductive cycles of optimisation?
  • Can we engineer an optimal crystal form for drug discovery?
  • What can we do when high-throughput crystallisation experiments doesn’t deliver?
  • What's the best way to grow crystals for a FEL?
We have three key research themes that arise from these questions:

Seeding for Success: we use microseed matrix screening to increase hit-rate, to engineer crystal forms and to crystallise challenging proteins where other approaches have failed.

Diffraction before Disturbance: our unique location allows us to test the diffraction quality of crystals in-plate at a world leading synchrotron beamline. This means more rapid and better-informed iterations of crystal optimisation.

Supplying the SwissFEL: free-electron lasers are revolutionising macromolecular crystallography. We are developing techniques for nano and micro crystal growth to fuel the future need for FEL samples.

If you are interested in using the facility, or in discussing any aspects of macromolecular crystallisation, we would be very glad to hear from you.

Please contact May Marsh by email or by telephone (+41 56 310 5437) for more information.

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