Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Cryo-electron Microscope Brings Into Sharp Focus The Mechanics Of Human Cells

Date:
August 28, 2003
Source:
University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center At Dallas
Summary:
There’s a powerful new way of looking at disease at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. It’s called the cryo-electron microscope, or cryo-EM. So powerful is the cryo-EM that at maximum one-million-time magnification power, it could, proportionally speaking, make a dime appear nearly 12 miles wide.

DALLAS – Aug. 27, 2003 – There’s a powerful new way of looking at disease at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

It’s called the cryo-electron microscope, or cryo-EM.

So powerful is the cryo-EM that at maximum one-million-time magnification power, it could, proportionally speaking, make a dime appear nearly 12 miles wide. By comparison, a common store-bought microscope with 1,000-time magnification would make that same coin appear a mere 62.5 feet across.

So sensitive is the microscope that it requires its own specially designed room – shielding it from noise and electronic or magnetic interference. The slightest vibration – a passing car, an electrical power surge – can corrupt its highly magnified pictures, which are vacuum-suspended and, to prevent distortion, frozen at minus 182 Celsius, or 295.6 below zero Fahrenheit.

And so rare is this latest model of the cryo-EM microscope that only one other exists in the United States (at an IBM facility in Vermont); three are in Japan, where UT Southwestern’s cryo-EM was constructed. Earlier models can be found at a handful of U.S. universities, including Harvard, Yale and Stanford.

The complete cryo-EM system, roughly the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, took years to design, cost $1.6 million and took 18 months to build. It went into operation Aug. 14 after a three-and-a-half-month installation.

What cryo-EM brings to UT Southwestern is an unprecedented opportunity for scientific exploration in such areas as basic cell biology, cellular aging and death, Alzheimer’s disease, spinal-cord injuries, cancer, diabetes, obesity and cholesterol metabolism.

Specifically, scientists can learn how viruses like herpes simplex virus type I (which causes cold sores) infect cells, as well as continue their detailed study of the human genome.

“This is a state-of-the-art instrument that will dramatically expand the electron microscope capabilities on our campus,” said Dr. Richard Anderson, chairman of cell biology.

The cryo-EM offers the ability to view, analyze and computer-simulate individual molecules, clusters of molecules and other sub-cellular structures within a cell. Resolution is more than three times the whole-cell magnification now possible with standard electron microscopes, which typically focus down to about three nanometers, or three-billionths of a meter - 705,000 times smaller than a pinhead. The new instrument can focus on cell components of less than one-billionth of a meter in size - 2.1 million times smaller than a pinhead.

The cryo-EM – paid for through the Texas Permanent University Fund – is housed in the Imaging Core Facility of the Philip R. Jonsson Basic Science Research Building. It is operated jointly by Dr. Christopher J. Gilpin, assistant professor of cell biology and director of the molecular and cellular imaging facility, and Dr. Masahide Kikkawa, assistant professor of cell biology. Dr. Kikkawa was recruited to UT Southwestern from the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Medicine partially because of his expertise in using the instrument.

“Cellular machineries are usually composed of large molecular complexes that are often too difficult to be analyzed by X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy,” Dr. Kikkawa said. “The new cryo-EM will fill the gap between such atomic-level understanding of these molecules and cellular-level activities.”

Similar to a patient having a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scan, minute biological samples can be imaged from different angles and a three-dimensional view obtained on the cryo-EM via specialized computer software, Dr. Gilpin said.

Said Dr. Anderson: “This cryo-EM is specialized for obtaining high resolution, 3-D information about the structure of macromolecular complexes like biological motors and ribosomes. I anticipate the structure of many important complexes will be solved, and many collaborations will develop between the cryo-EM specialists and the X-ray crystallographers on campus.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center At Dallas. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center At Dallas. "New Cryo-electron Microscope Brings Into Sharp Focus The Mechanics Of Human Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 August 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/08/030828073100.htm>.
University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center At Dallas. (2003, August 28). New Cryo-electron Microscope Brings Into Sharp Focus The Mechanics Of Human Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/08/030828073100.htm
University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center At Dallas. "New Cryo-electron Microscope Brings Into Sharp Focus The Mechanics Of Human Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/08/030828073100.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Why Did Nike Fire Most Of Its Nike FuelBand Team?

Why Did Nike Fire Most Of Its Nike FuelBand Team?

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) Nike fired most of its Digital Sport hardware team, the group behind Nike's FuelBand device. Could Apple or an overcrowded market be behind layoffs? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City has also been revealed at the auto show. (Apr. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins