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Matthews coefficient probabilities: Improved estimates for unit cell contents of proteins, DNA, and protein–nucleic acid complex crystals

Authors

  • Katherine A. Kantardjieff,

    Corresponding author
    1. W.M. Keck Foundation Center for Molecular Structure, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, California State University (CSU) Fullerton, Fullerton, California 92834-6866, USA
    • W.M. Keck Foundation Center for Molecular Structure, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, California State University Fullerton, 800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton, CA 92834-6866, USA; fax: (734) 939-4225.
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  • Bernhard Rupp

    1. Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-2128, USA
    2. Biology and Biotechnology Research Program, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Livermore, California 94551, USA
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Abstract

Estimating the number of molecules in the crystallographic asymmetric unit is one of the first steps in a macromolecular structure determination. Based on a survey of 15,641 crystallographic Protein Data Bank (PDB) entries the distribution of VM, the crystal volume per unit of protein molecular weight, known as Matthews coefficient, has been reanalyzed. The range of values and frequencies has changed in the 30 years since Matthews first analysis of protein crystal solvent content. In the statistical analysis, complexes of proteins and nucleic acids have been treated as a separate group. In addition, the VM distribution for nucleic acid crystals has been examined for the first time. Observing that resolution is a significant discriminator of VM, an improved estimator for the probabilities of the number of molecules in the crystallographic asymmetric unit has been implemented, using resolution as additional information.

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