CrystalDirect® is aimed to be integrated into a fully automated environment, ranging from pre-crystallization steps to diffraction data analysis. Such an environment is generally handled via specialized management software. CrystalDirect® is able to work hand-in-hand with such crystallization management systems.
The EMBL has developed a web based application called CRIMS (CRystallization Information Management System) which is fully compatible with CrystalDirect®.
CRIMS takes in charge data management of the entire crystallization line, giving web functionalities for each step:
CRIMS records data related to the samples (name, type, concentration and others), designing crystallization experiments and it tracks all experimental parameters (crystallization conditions, temperature, etc.) for each well. At any time users can access to these data and modify them. CRIMS links these data with the next step, the crystallization screening.
CRIMS can collect pictures generated by Crystal Farms (e.g. Rock imagers). The lab’ manager and expert users can inspect and score all of these pictures for each crystallization well. This “image viewing & scoring” function allows the expert user to analyses and annotate the results for each well.
Automated protein crystal harvesting – integration with CrystalDirect®
The EMBL has developed the automated protein crystal harvester CrystalDirect® to take full advantage of the features offered by CRIMS.
Based on the crystallization screening results the expert user can select the crystals to be harvested and defines the cut shape and its orientation for each harvesting process. Then, CRIMS transfers the information to CrystalDirect® which will perform the harvest as set.
CrystalDirect® cryo-protects harvested crystals, takes pictures of the cryo-cooled samples and transfers these images to CRIMS. The expert user can check these images by means of CRIMS and hence, gets visual feedback on the success of the harvesting process and the final sample quality.
Following the harvest, CrystalDirect® makes sample pins available to a sample changer robot which stores the cryo-protected crystals in liquid nitrogen.
Integration with Data Collection
Once the collection of diffraction data is finished, CRIMS retrieves a summary of the data quality from the synchrotron’s diffraction database, e.g. ISPyB (ESRF Synchrotron database, France).
CRIMS is a development of the EMBL Grenoble – HTX laboratory (Márquez Team)