Imperial researchers are using cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to investigate several types of biological machinery that perform different functions, such as bacterial movement and secretion. Imperial is the lead for the 10 partner London consortium for cryo EM (LonCEM). 

The MRC LMS Electron Microscopy (EM) facility provides equipment and expertise in the field of cryo-electron microscopy and particularly single-particle analysis. This technique depends on purified protein complexes (larger than 200 kDa) in order to determine their medium to high-resolution structures. The facility is currently equipped with a mid-range Philips CM200 TWIN FEG microscope, a Tietz 2k CCD camera and Gatan 910 and Oxford cryo-holders. For grids and sample preparation, the users have access to a Vitrobot Mark IV, a carbon coater and a glow discharge unit.

New users of the facility will be guided and supported by the experienced cryo-EM scientist, Ricardo Aramayo.

The LMS cryo-EM facility is ideal to perform the crucial steps of sample optimisation, prior to high-resolution data collection with a high-end microscope at advanced facilities elsewhere. Users can be provided with advice and help for the high-resolution data collection and the following processing.

Amongst other applications Speck (Institute of Clinical Sciences, Medicine) will use cryo-EM to investigate how DNA replication is initiated and how this process can be inhibited, which could lead towards the development of novel chemotherapeutics.

Philips CM200 TWIN microscope from the Hammersmith facility. Top right panel: structure of OCCM complex from C. Speck’s DNA replication group.















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