Telegram takes look inside ‘ballet of the cell’ through new cryo-EM technology at UMMS

By Lisa M. Larson

UMass Medical School Communications

April 10, 2017
   Massachusetts Facility for High-Resolution Cryo-Electron Microscopy at UMass Medical School
 

The Massachusetts Facility for High-Resolution Cryo-Electron Microscopy at UMass Medical School 

The Massachusetts Facility for High-Resolution Cryo-Electron Microscopy at UMass Medical School is giving scientists a front row seat to the “ballet of the cell,” according to Brian Kelch, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, in an article published in the April 9 Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

“Prior to this CryoEM technology, it was like we were at the back of the arena with very poor vision,” Dr. Kelch told the paper. “These microscopes now allow us to get 20/20 vision and move to the orchestra seats so we can now see all the dancers and see how they interact with each other. Then also when the dance gets out of synchrony, which could lead to disease, we can see how to bring those dancers back to synchrony, which can fix that disease.”

The first-of-its-kind facility for New England opened earlier this year, giving faculty and external clients access to technology that allows them to see single molecules and their dynamics and macromolecular assemblies inside cells in unprecedented detail. It consists of two cryo-EM microscopes, described as the most advanced in New England and two of fewer than 50 such cryo-EM microscopes worldwide, according to Chen Xu, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry & molecular biology and director of the facility.

Andre Korostelev, PhD, associate professor in the RNA Therapeutics Institute, explained that the technology is like photographing thousands of horses and then sequencing their movements.

“Here you freeze 1,000 horses, each of them moving differently,” Dr. Korostelev said, explaining how they freeze the molecules. “And then from that we try to reconstruct a smooth pathway of the movement.”

Read the full story: Cryo-electron microscopes view ‘ballet of the cell’ at UMass Med School

Related stories on UMassMedNow:
Cutting edge UMMS Cryo-Electron Microscopy facility opens
Massachusetts Facility for High-Resolution Cryo-Electron Microscopy opening at UMMS 
Massachusetts Life Sciences Center announces $5M award to UMMS for Cryo-Electron Microscope

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