Dartmouth Crystallography Core Facility

The McLellan lab utilizes and manages a facility that houses three cutting edge, high-throughput robots for rapid protein crystallization. Our ultimate goal is to increase the rate of protein structure determination for all researchers at Dartmouth. Key-card access to the facility provides users with the opportunity to use the Rock Imager 1000, NT8 and Formulator instruments from Formulatrix. A site-wide software license allows all users access to the Rock Maker software, which manages the entire crystallization process.

Rock Imager 1000 with UV optics
The Rock Imager is an automated imaging system equipped with a 5-megapixel color CCD camera, continuous zoom optics with a 1.5 μm resolution, and is capable of extended focus imaging, auto focusing and drop location. UV optics and a UV-sensitive camera allow identification of protein crystals via fluorescence of aromatic residues under UV lighting and a motorized polarizer allows detection of crystal birefringence. The RI1000 is temperature controlled and fully automatic, allowing plates to be imaged according to a predetermined schedule. The integration of the Rock Imager with Rock Maker software then allows these images to be viewed remotely.

NT8 Automated Liquid Handler
The NT8 is a nano-liter volume liquid handler that provides high-throughput drop dispensing into SBS-compatible 96-well crystallization trays. The NT8 is capable of dispensing volumes from 50 nL to 1.8 μL, with a dead volume of less than 2.5 μL per 96 drops. A two-drop 96-well tray can be dispensed in under 7 min. The tray resides in an enclosed chamber and humidity is actively controlled to minimize evaporation.

Formulator 16 Microfluidic Liquid Handler
The Formulator 16 is a next-generation liquid handler used for dispensing up to 16 unique reagents into 96-well trays for customized screening and optimization of crystallization conditions. A unique microfluidic chip uses positive-displacement diaphragms to dispense volumes as low as 200 nL. The built-in bar-code scanner facilitates the identification of reagents needed for screens designed in Rock Maker software.