The most important crystal?
Since lysozyme may have been crystallized more often and by more people than any other protein, lysozyme crystals may qualify as the most important crystals of all. Many protein crystallographers have cut their crystallizing teeth on lysozyme. More experiments to study the relationship between crystal quality and pH, temperature, pressure and solvent selection have probably been conducted with lysozyme than any other protein.
Nevertheless, when you are able to grow your first really beautiful perfect crystal of any substance there is a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that is one of the rewards of a life in crystallography. No matter that it's been done before. The crystal is a joy to behold, you have learned a lot and suddenly you have a new skill. So it was for undergraduate summer intern Moiela Halimy when she grew the lysozyme crystal pictured here. When she was told a picture of her lysozyme crystal would appear in the IUCr Newsletter, Moiela wrote, 'First of all, thank you so much for the opportunity. It was a pleasure for me to work at your lab with you (Joe Luft) and Jen. I had a great time. I appreciate the fact that you trusted me with that project and let me do it. Today you gave me one of the greatest news that I've ever got, I would love it if my name would be associated with the picture. Please let me know when the newspaper is published.'
I appreciate the help of Joe Luft (Hauptman Woodward's Crystal Guru) in giving us the photo of Moiela's crystal. The first reference Joe finds to crystallization of lysozyme is a paper by E. P. Abraham and R. Robinson, Crystallization of lysozyme, in Nature 140 (1937) page 24. A Google search for lysozyme got 2,150,000 hits. Perusal of a few dozen entries found 'How to use lysozyme in a sentence', 'Wine Maker Magazine' and 23 pages of lysozyme-related images including crystals, structural ribbon diagrams, and photos of Linus Pauling, Janet Thornton, Brian Kobalka, Marie Curie and Ada Yonath.
Please take the time to email us your candidate for 'Most important crystal ever!'
Since 1997 the Dept. of Chemistry at the National U. of Singapore (NUS) has held National Crystal Growing Challenge Competitions. This year's 10th biennial competition attracted 118 teams from 47 secondary, junior college and polytechnic schools in Singapore and an audience of 300 guests attended the award ceremony (details on page 19). The next competition is scheduled to be held in 2014 as part of Singapore's celebration of the IYCr. Every National committee could follow Singapore's lead as part of their plans for the IYCr and open up the world of crystallography to thousands of students.William L. Duax