In addition, we also investigated the mechanism of nucleation on the silicate surface. Crystallization of lysozyme using silicates with different chemical compositions indicated that fluorosilicates promoted nucleation whereas the silicates without fluorine did not. The use of synthesized saponites for lysozyme crystallization confirmed that the substitution of hydroxyl groups contained in the lamellae structure for fluorine atoms is responsible for the nucleation-inducing property of the nucleant. Crystallization of twelve proteins with a wide range of pI values revealed that the nucleation promoting effect of the saponites tended to increase with increased substitution rate. Furthermore, the saponite with the highest fluorine content promoted nucleation in all the test proteins regardless of their overall net charge. Adsorption experiments of proteins on the saponites confirmed that the density of adsorbed molecules increased according to the substitution rate, thereby explaining the heterogeneous nucleation on the silicate surface.
The article is published online in PLoS ONE and is free to access.