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Proteins are dynamic systems and interact with their environment. The analysis of crystal contacts in the most accurately determined protein structures (d < 1.5 Å) reveals that in contrast to current views, static disorder and high side-chain entropy are common in the crystal contact area. These observations challenge the validity of the theory that presumes that the occurrence of well ordered patches of side chains at the surface is an essential prerequisite for a successful crystallization event. The present paper provides evidence in support of the approach for understanding protein crystallization as a process dependent on multiple factors, each with its relative contribution, rather than a phenomenon driven by a few dominant physicochemical characteristics. The role of the molecular shape as a factor in the crystallization of proteins by surface mutagenesis is discussed.

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