Dielectrophoretic sorting of membrane protein nanocrystals

Bahige G. Abdallah, Tzu Chiao Chao, Christopher Kupitz, Petra Fromme, Alexandra Ros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Structure elucidation of large membrane protein complexes is still a considerable challenge, yet is a key factor in drug development and disease combat. Femtosecond nanocrystallography is an emerging technique with which structural information of membrane proteins is obtained without the need to grow large crystals, thus overcoming the experimental riddle faced in traditional crystallography methods. Here, we demonstrate for the first time a microfluidic device capable of sorting membrane protein crystals based on size using dielectrophoresis. We demonstrate the excellent sorting power of this new approach with numerical simulations of selected submicrometer beads in excellent agreement with experimental observations. Crystals from batch crystallization broths of the huge membrane protein complex photosystem I were sorted without further treatment, resulting in a high degree of monodispersity and crystallinity in the ∼100 nm size range. Microfluidic integration, continuous sorting, and nanometer-sized crystal fractions make this method ideal for direct coupling to femtosecond nanocrystallography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9129-9137
Number of pages9
JournalACS nano
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 22 2013


  • dielectrophoresis
  • membrane protein
  • microfluidic
  • nanocrystallography
  • sorting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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