Palmer, R.A., Palmer, H.T., Frampton, C.S. and Potter, B.S.
X-ray structures of fifty year old crystals of cholesterol iodide forms I and II
Journal of Chemical Crystallography, 37, (1), . (doi:10.1007/s10870-006-9140-2).
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The molecular framework of steroids was firmly established from the successful X-ray analysis of cholesteryl iodide crystals over fifty years ago. At the time, this was a triumph for the rapidly developing technique of X-ray crystallography. We describe here new analyses of cholesteryl iodide using crystals of forms I and II(A) which are at least 50 years old. Comparison of these two structures reveals subtle differences in the geometry of the steroid skeleton, the attached side chain and the covalently bound iodine. The crystals of both forms occur in the same monoclinic space group, P2(1), with similar but nevertheless different unit cells, particularly in the b-axis length. As a consequence, there are subtle differences in the packing mechanisms of the two polymorphs. The two forms were originally classified by Bernal and Crowfoot, on the basis of their studies of more than 60 crystals of sterols and sterol derivatives, as "normal, type A - the common form" (corresponding to form II) and "reverse or type B" (corresponding to form I), respectively. Those crystals of form I which have survived for almost 55 years are poor X-ray diffractors at room temperature and have been analysed at liquid N temperature, diffracting well under these conditions. Form II crystals diffract well at room temperature and for this reason the crystals were not cooled. The main differences in geometry occur in the side-chain which is disordered in the room temperature form II crystals, whilst the individual ring conformations in the steroid skeleton are similar, ring A being a strained chair, ring B a 7 alpha/8 beta half-chair, ring C a symmetrical chair and D a 13 beta/14 alpha half-chair.
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