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Diamond Light Source Purchases Multiple Electron Microscopes from FEI

Published: Thursday, June 19, 2014
Last Updated: Thursday, June 19, 2014
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The U.K.’s national synchrotron now has a complete cryo-EM workflow for integrative structural biology to explore essential biological questions at the atomic and molecular scale.

FEI has announced its largest order for Life Sciences - Diamond Light Source, one of the most advanced synchrotron light sources in the world, has ordered two Titan Krios™ cryo transmission electron microscopes (TEMs), a Scios™ DualBeam™ FIB/SEM (focused ion beam/scanning electron microscope) and a Talos™ cryo-TEM.

These microscopes form the core of the electron biology facility (EBIC) that will provide Diamond with a complete cryo-electron microscopy (EM) workflow that will be used in conjunction with other structural biology techniques to enable new insights into viruses and cellular proteins.

Professor David Stuart, director for Life Sciences at Diamond Light Source, states, “X-ray diffraction (XRD) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) are extremely powerful techniques that can resolve atomic-scale structure, but can only be applied to a subset of biological molecules and complexes. Cryo-EM can resolve structures down to the sub-nanometer, molecular-scale, and can look at just about anything, including large multimolecular complexes. In the simplest sense, integrative structural biology uses cryo-EM to provide the overview, and XRD and NMR to see the details.”

He adds, “Locating cryo-EM equipment at the synchrotron gives researchers access to a range of advanced capabilities at the same facility. The new Cryo EM centre for biology is being funded by a £15.6 million grant from the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).”

“When the new Cryo-EM centre opens in 2015, the UK’s national synchrotron will house the essential tools needed to carry out a comprehensive and integrated structural biology approach for characterization of viruses and protein complexes,” states Dr. Paul Scagnetti, vice president of FEI’s Science Business Group. “Answers to many of the most important biological questions, from basic biological functions to complicated disease processes, can potentially be discovered by understanding the structure and function of the molecular machines that operate in this spatial regime.”

Integrative structural biology is a rapidly-emerging field that combines general methods including TEM. For this process Diamond’s sophisticated computational capabilities are critical for analyzing the data from individual techniques and combining these results to obtain 3D structural analysis that spans the spatial scale from atoms to large multimolecular entities.

One of the Krios instruments will be dedicated to single particle analysis (SPA), which can resolve structural details down to a few tenths of a nanometer - small enough to identify individual side chains on the amino acid building blocks of proteins.

The other Krios cryo-TEM will be optimized for cellular tomography, which can look at naturally-occurring configurations of molecules in selected regions of whole cells. The Scios DualBeam and Talos cryo-TEM will be part of the sample preparation workflow.

Scagnetti adds, “Diamond Light Source combines an advanced synchrotron with broad and deep technical expertise. Professor David Stuart, who played a leading role in the cryo EM acquisition, is one of the best-known experts in the field of XRD and structural biology. We are delighted to be working with him and to see the fast growing acceptance of cryo-EM into the discipline of integrative structural biology.”

The instruments will be located at Diamond Light Source on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus near Oxford, United Kingdom. Diamond, a third-generation synchrotron light source, generates high-intensity beams at frequencies that range from microwaves to hard X-rays, providing opportunities for scientific research in a number of disciplines.

The systems will be installed in Q1 2015.


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