Single crystals of poly(L-glutamic acid)
Lamellar single crystals of alkaline earth salts of poly(L-glutamic acid) have been grown by precipitation from dilute aqueous solution and studied by optical and electron microscopy and by x-ray and electron diffraction. The calcium, strontium and barium salts were crystallized in the β form above room temperature and could be converted to crystals of β-poly(L-glutamic acid) by washing in dilute hydrochloric acid. The magnesium salt, on the other hand, was crystallized in the α form at or below room temperature but could not be converted into crystals of α-poly(L-glutamic acid) by washing in hydrochloric acid. The crystalline lamellae are very thin (thicknesses range from 25 to 60 Å in β crystals and are about 100 Å in α crystals) and the polypeptide chains are oriented normal to the planes of the lamellae. It is clear from the disparity between crystal thickness and molecular length that the molecules crystallize by folding at the upper and lower surfaces of the crystals. Conformations of the molecules at these folds are discussed briefly.