NWO grants collaborative Cryo-microscopy development by Hoogenboom (ImPhys) and Jakobi (BN)

News - 19 December 2018 - Communication ImPhys

NWO has announced that it has decided to fund the 810 k€ collaborative project CRYO3BEAMS led by Jacob Hoogenboom (ImPhys). The project, which further involves Arjen Jakobi (BN) and industrial partners Delmic and Demcon-Kryoz, is funded within the High-Tech Systems and Materials (HTSM) Topsector call.

Within this project, the research team will develop a novel cryogenic microscope in which a high-resolution light microscope is integrated with focused electron and ion beam systems to allow targeted extraction of specific proteins for high-resolution structural determination.

Electron cryo-microscopy (awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry) is a unique technique to determine the three-dimensional structure of interacting proteins at near-atomic resolution. The precise atomic arrangement of proteins is crucial to understand how proteins function in biology or dysfunction during disease. For electron cryo-microscopy, the protein needs to be contained precisely in a very thin (100-200 nm) slice that is cut out of the ~1000 µm3 volume of the cell.

Finding the relevant proteins within the cell is thus like finding a needle in a haystack. In the CRYO3BEAMS microscope a target protein (the needle) will light up in the light microscope after which the electron and ion beams can be used to effectively trim away the rest of the cell (the haystack). The resulting slice containing the target protein(s) can then be transferred to a high-resolution cryo-electron microscope for structural determination.

Also this week, Lucas van Vliet and Jacob Hoogenboom signed TNW-ImPhys participation in an international consortium further consisting of renowned international cryo-electron microscopy groups in the USA, Germany, and Australia that aims at guiding the development of integrated three-beams technology for cryo-electron microscopy.