Phase diagram of a crystalline protein: Determination of the solubility of concanavalin A by a microquantitation assay
Abstract A quick and miniature method has been devised for determining protein solubility and used to investigate the equilibrium solubility of concanavalin A from the Jack Bean with its crystals as a function of ammonium sulfate concentration, temperature and pH. The crystals were characterized by X-ray diffraction and their morphologies related to the corresponding solubilities. The protein solution concentration was estimated out of small crystallizing drops using a rapid and sensitive microassay. Measurements of protein quantity were carried out in 96-well microplates in an automatic spectrophotometer. The resulting phase diagram has permitted to analyse the solubility of concanavalin A, to estimate supersaturation and to devise readily new ways of crystal growth of this lectin, namely by pH and temperature variations. Moreover, the approach is proved to be a valuable tool to design crystallization experiments of new molecules and to improve and control protein crystal growth.