Chapter 4.3 Application of protein engineering to enhance crystallizability and improve crystal properties

Crystallography of biological macromolecules

Second Online Edition (2012)

Part 4. Crystallization

  1. Z. S. Derewenda

Published Online: 14 APR 2012

DOI: 10.1107/97809553602060000814

International Tables for Crystallography

International Tables for Crystallography

How to Cite

Derewenda, Z. S. 2012. Application of protein engineering to enhance crystallizability and improve crystal properties. International Tables for Crystallography. F:4:4.3:129–139.

Author Information

  1. Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA 22908–0736, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 APR 2012


Until recently, protein crystallization has mostly been regarded as a stochastic event over which the investigator has little or no control. With the dramatic technological advances in synchrotron-radiation sources and detectors and the equally impressive progress in crystallographic software, including automated model building and validation, crystallization has increasingly become the rate-limiting step in X-ray diffraction studies of macromolecules. However, with the advent of recombinant methods it has also become possible to engineer target proteins and their complexes for higher propensity to form crystals with desirable X-ray diffraction qualities. As most proteins that are under investigation today are obtained by heterologous overexpression, these techniques hold the promise of becoming routine tools with the potential to transform classical crystallization screening into a more rational high-success-rate approach. This chapter presents an overview of protein-engineering methods designed to enhance crystallizability and discusses a number of examples of their successful application.


  • protein engineering;
  • protein crystallization;
  • fusion proteins;
  • crystallization chaperones;
  • post-translational modifications;
  • surface-entropy reduction