Benefits of automated crystallization plate tracking, imaging, and analysis.
Mayo CJ., Diprose JM., Walter TS., Berry IM., Wilson J., Owens RJ., Jones EY., Harlos K., Stuart DI., Esnouf RM.
We describe the design of a database and software for managing and organizing protein crystallization data. We also outline the considerations behind the design of a fast web interface linking protein production data, crystallization images, and automated image analysis. The database and associated interfaces underpin the Oxford Protein Production Facility (OPPF) crystallization laboratory, collecting, in a routine and automatic manner, up to 100,000 images per day. Over 17 million separate images are currently held in this database. We discuss the substantial scientific benefits automated tracking, imaging, and analysis of crystallizations offers to the structural biologist: analysis of the time course of the trial and easy analysis of trials with related crystallization conditions. Features of this system address requirements common to many crystallographic laboratories that are currently setting up (semi-)automated crystallization imaging systems.