Most commercially available crystallization screens are sparse-matrix screens with a predominance of inorganic salts and polyethylene glycols (PEGs) as precipitants. It was noted that commercially available screens are largely unsatisfactory for the purpose of the crystallization of multimeric protein and protein-nucleic acid complexes. This was reasoned to be a consequence of the redundancy in screening crystallization parameter space by the predominance of PEG as a precipitant in standard screens and it was suggested that this limitation could be overcome by introducing a variety of other organic polymers. Here, a set of 288 crystallization conditions was devised based on alternative polymeric precipitants and tested against a set of 20 different proteins/complexes; finally, a screen comprising the 96 most promising conditions designed to complement PEG- and salt-based commercial screens was proposed.
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