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A system has been developed for subjecting protein crystals to hyperbaric pressures of oxygen gas in order to promote enzymatic reaction. Crystals of an oxygenase or oxidase enzyme are grown anaerobically by hanging drop vapor diffusion, under crystallization conditions modified to eliminate combustible materials such as plastic coverslips and grease. The crystalline enzyme:substrate complex can then be exposed to oxygen gas at pressures up to 60 bar using a custom-built device or "bomb." In this way, reaction is initiated synchronously throughout the crystal and subsequent flash freezing allows the trapping of enzyme:product complexes in high occupancy. These complexes can then be structurally characterized by conventional monochromatic X-ray crystallography. The bomb is furnished from naval brass and lubricated with Fomblin RT15 perfluorinated polyether grease in order to ensure compatibility with the highly oxidizing environment.

Original publication




Journal article


Anal Biochem

Publication Date





265 - 268


Animals, Crystallization, Crystallography, X-Ray, Ferrous Compounds, Humans, Oxidoreductases, Oxygen, Oxygenators