The Flexus range of automated liquid handlers is a highly flexible platform that provides complete automation for a wide variety of liquid handling applications. The latest model to be unveiled by Gilson Scientific is the only commercially available automated instrument for cubic phase in meso protein crystallography. Designed specifically for speed, precision and careful handling, the Flexus Crystal IMP embraces a technique that is otherwise difficult and laborious to perform manually.

One method for successful crystallisation of membrane proteins exploits the ability of lipids to form liquid crystals or mesophases; however, the method has not been widely adopted as it is difficult to perform. Problems include the need to manipulate an extremely viscous lipidic cubic phase and accurately positioning the precipitant on top of the cubic phase.

Now with Flexus Crystal IMP the practical difficulties of preparing the cubic phase are overcome and completely automated. The system uses a syringe mounted on to a fully integrated micro-syringe pump situated on the arm of the robotic platform. This enables successful mixing to produce a homogeneous sample.

The mixed cubic phase is transferred directly to the micro-pump and dispensed on to a glass slide with precipitant dispensed directly on top, effortlessly and precisely. Plates can now be prepared in less than 10min with excellent reproducibility, allowing high throughput trials that require minimal amounts of protein. The intense speed of this instrument now enables thorough screening of membrane proteins and allows users to concentrate on removing bottlenecks from inspecting plates for crystals rather than on the preparation itself.