Cryo-Electron Microscopy and Tomography Center

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 Center is currently equipped with a 300keV Titan Krios transmission electron microscope, 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 Center also houses a 120 keV Talos L120C transmission electron microscope for sample screening and optimization. These cutting-edge technologies permit 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, Leica EM GP2 automatic plunge freezer, a Gatan Solarus II plasma cleaner, a glow discharger, a carbon coater for sample preparation as well as state-of-the-art computational resources including dedicated GPU workstations, a GPU cluster and a DDN file storage system. Additional GPU and CPU clusters, and a large file storage system are available through the high performance computing facilities at the St. Jude Data Center. The immediate future plans for the addition of high-end microscopes, instrumentation as well as computational and data analysis resources to enable cryogenic correlative light and electron microscopy for high resolution imaging of cells and tissues.