A two-dimensional (2D) crystal of streptavidin has been obtained by a nonspecific binding method. The protein molecules were bound and formed a dense packing on the film of poly(1-benzyl-L-histidine) spread at the surface of protein solution. The surface film was moderately heated to stimulate crystallization of bound streptavidin. A potential of this method for obtaining 2D crystals of soluble proteins is demonstrated. The present 2D crystal structure of streptavidin resembles that previously obtained by specific binding to biotinylated lipid. We show in addition that the 2D array of protein with usual size approximately 50 A can be imaged using a high resolution scanning electron microscope (HR-SEM) and subject to structural analysis at low resolution. Various limitations in HR-SEM degrade considerably the image quality. However, the usability of a bulk plate as specimen support would make HR-SEM a convenient tool, when such a substrate must be considered in application of protein arrays, and if an intrinsic low resolution is acceptable.
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