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Crystals 2019, 9(3), 126;

pH and Redox Induced Color Changes in Protein Crystals Suffused with Dyes

Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, University of California Irvine, McGaugh Hall, Irvine, CA 92697-3900, USA
Received: 21 January 2019 / Revised: 19 February 2019 / Accepted: 23 February 2019 / Published: 1 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Crystallization)
PDF [8475 KB, uploaded 1 March 2019]


Protein crystals, otherwise usually colorless, can be stained a variety of hues by saturating them with dyes, by diffusion from the mother liquor or co-crystallization. The colors assumed by dyes are a function of chemical factors, particularly pH and redox potential. Protein crystals saturated with a pH sensitive dye, initially at one pH, can be exposed to the mother liquor at a second pH and the crystal will change color over time as H3O+ ions diffuse through the crystal. This allows diffusion rates of H3O+ through the crystal to be measured. Diffusion fronts are often clearly delineated. Similar experiments can be carried out with redox sensitive dyes by adding reductants, such as ascorbic acid or dithionite, or oxidants such as H2O2, to the crystal’s mother liquor. Presented here are a number of experiments using pH or redox sensitive dye-saturated protein crystals, and some experiments using double dye, sequential redox–pH changes. View Full-Text
Keywords: dyes; diffusion; H3O+; reductants; color change; gradients dyes; diffusion; H3O+; reductants; color change; gradients

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McPherson, A. pH and Redox Induced Color Changes in Protein Crystals Suffused with Dyes. Crystals 2019, 9, 126.

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