The generation of large quantities of protein by overexpression technology has enabled structural studies of many important molecules that are found in only minute quantities in the cell. An increasing number of structures of proteins overexpressed in non-native systems have been solved. Crystallographers now have an extremely powerful tool, namely protein engineering, for the generation of native and derivative crystals that diffract to high solution. The mutation of residues or generation of compact domains through truncation has resulted in crystals with enhanced diffraction properties. Heavy atom derivative crystals isomorphous to the native protein may also be engineered either by introducing cysteines or by removing cysteines whose reaction with heavy-atom compounds results in poor crystals.
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