UK university showcases two Titan Krios EMs

Editorial

Rebecca Pool

Monday, February 6, 2017 - 17:45
Image: Installing a Titan Krios at the Astbury Centre, University of Leeds. Left: Professor Neil Ranson.
 
Two of the most powerful cryo-electron microscopes in the world have been installed in the Astbury BioStructure Laboratory at UK-based University of Leeds, thanks to a multi-million pound investment from the University and the Wellcome Trust.
 
As Professor Neil Ranson from Structural Molecular Biology at the Astbury Centre says: “We’ll be able to see the structure of molecules that cause everything from a simple sneeze to cancer.”
 
“Without that detail, we sometimes struggled to understand the structure of biological molecules and how they function, especially when they are in their normal workplace: inside our cells," he adds. "However, [with] the Titan Krios microscopes... these limitations have been shattered. Researchers will now be able to image biological molecules with an incredible resolution. Crucially, we’ll also be able to see how these molecules interact with each other.”
 
The two Titan Krios G2, 300kV electron microscopes cost approximately £3.5m each; one is fitted with an FEI Falcon3 camera while the other includes an FEI Falcon3 camera, a Gatan energy-filtered K2 Summit camera and a Volta-potential phase plate.
 
Each is optimised for 24/7 automatic operation and produces 3 to 5 terabytes of raw data per day.
 
Researchers at Leeds will use the electron microscope to study how proteins aggregate and how this process causes neurotoxicity, which is fundamental to understanding diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
 
They also hope to better understand how viruses are built, provide new details on how ion channels and transporters work, and more.
 
The centre recently installed new nuclear magnetic resonance facilities, and as Ranson points out: “This is not just imagery and information for its own sake. This kind of detail will, for example, be able to see the structure of a virus invading a cell using cryo-EM, and be able to tell which parts of its receptor are important for that binding using NMR."
 
“Understanding is key to eventually manipulating these interactions, and we aim to create a revolution in biological and medical insights and inform future discovery of new medicines,” he adds.
 
The cryo-EMs are installed in a multi-million pound renovation of a former television studio and will be used alongside a recently acquired 950MHz NMR magnet to allow unrivalled insight into the structure and behaviour of biological molecules.
 
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