The St. Jude Department of Structural Biology operates a world-class center for cryo-electron microscopy (Cryo-EM). The Cryo-EM Center enables St. Jude researchers to visualize intricate biological structures, such as large macromolecular complexes, at atomic or near-atomic resolution, and it enables visualization of nanometer-scale 3D biological structures in their native cellular context. A shared resource open to all St. Jude investigators, the St. Jude Cryo-EM Center provides for molecular-level examination of the differences between healthy and diseased cells with unprecedented detail and clarity.
The first instruments installed in the Center include a 300keV Titan Krios transmission electron microscope and a 200keV Talos Arctica transmission electron microscope, each equipped with a K3 direct electron detector and a BioQuantum energy filter. The Krios is furthermore equipped with a Volta phase plate, providing the dramatic improvement in image contrast that is essential for imaging smaller proteins and for performing high resolution cryo-electron tomography. The cutting-edge technology incorporated into these instruments permits very fine details to be imaged, with image quality surpassing anything previously attainable.
Additionally, the Center hosts auxiliary equipment including a ThermoFisher Vitrobot Mark IV, a Gatan Solarus II plasma cleaner, a glow discharger, and a carbon coater for sample preparation. A 120 keV transmission electron microscope is to be acquired in early 2019 for sample screening and optimization, and additional instruments are planned for enabling cryogenic correlative light and electron microscopy, and cryo-FIB for high resolution imaging of cells and tissues. The center is supported by state-of-the-art computational resources including a dedicated GPU cluster and a DDN file storage, and has ready access to the high performance computing facilities at the St. Jude Data Center.
Liang Tang, PhD