Coronavirus Structure Mapped with Cryo-EM
Cryo-EM has been used to generate the first 3D atomic-scale map of the coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This is a key step towards developing a vaccine and treatments for the infection.
Blue Scientific is the official Nordic distributor for AMETEK Gatan systems for electron microscopes in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland. For more information or quotes, please get in touch.Follow @blue_scientific
First 3D Atomic-Scale Map of Coronavirus
The first 3D atomic-scale map of the coronavirus has been created by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and the National Institutes of Health. This is a significant and vital step towards developing vaccines, therapeutic antibodies and other medical counter-measures.
The AMETEK Gatan K3 TEM camera was used to map the spike protein. This is the part of the virus that penetrates host cells, enabling it to replicate.
The team are now working to develop a vaccine, based on this research.
Coronavirus: How biologists resolved the structure of the virus so spectacularly quickly
More information is available in this story on Wiley Analytical Science.[testimonial author=”Daniel Wrapp, University of Texas at Austin”]We’d also upgraded our K2 detector to a K3 detector six months ago so for an average user like me, the key advantage here was the speed with which I could collect the movies. I think we probably doubled the number of movies that we could collect in a single day by moving from the K2 to K3. Also, just the physical parameters of the detector itself are larger – so if you’re trying to get a greater number of particles, this means you can collect fewer movies.[/testimonial] [testimonial author=”Christopher Booth – Director of Life Science, AMETEK Gatan”]Through single-particle cryo-electron microscopy, the researchers determined the atomic structure of the spikes. This helps explain the virus’s resistance to antibodies used to disable similar illnesses. The K3 camera was the key detector used to determine the native structure in record time.[/testimonial] [testimonial author=”Jason McLellan – Associate Professor (lead researcher on the project), University of Texas at Austin”]The K3 camera not only gave us great images that provided the atomic-resolution structure, it also prevented data collection from becoming a bottleneck, ultimately letting our team concentrate on getting the structure as quickly as possible.[/testimonial] [testimonial author=”Narayan Vishwanathan – Division Vice President, AMETEK Gatan”]We would like to congratulate all the researchers for their tremendous efforts in driving this impressive breakthrough in such a short amount of time. The Gatan team takes great pride in the value our advanced instrumentation provides to critical life sciences research.[/testimonial]
More information about this significant achievement is available here from The University of Texas at Austin.
Read the Scientific Paper
The breakthrough research at the University of Texas at Austin and the National Institutes of Health has been published in the journal Science:
Single particle cryo-electron microscopy is a characterisation technique for structural biology, with a high resolution comparable to X-ray crystallography. Frozen-hydrated samples are studied in vitreous (non-crystalline) ice. The ultra-structure, buffer and ligand distribution are maintained in their natural state.
- Study samples in their natural, hydrated state – Structures can be observed in a biologically relevant environment, including sample and buffer concentration.
- Suitable for larger assemblies – Including molecules larger than 150 kDa, which are heterogeneous, metastable, with multiple sub-units or difficult to crystallise.
- Atomic resolution structures – Study asymmetric side chains, hydrogen bonds and water molecules, as well as alpha helices and beta sheets.
- Controlled chemical environment – Experimental conditions can be adjusted to observe molecules in various functional states.
- No crystallisation – Less sample preparation, for faster results.
Cryo-EM in Virus Research
This is not the first time that AMETEK Gatan’s electron microscopy technology has contributed to breakthrough research into virus transmission and disease outbreaks. In 2016, the K2 Summit (a previous model of the K3 camera) was used to capture the first 3D structure of the Zika virus. This information helped lead to a better understanding of the illness and potential treatments.
The K2 camera has also been used to investigate these structures:
- Structural basis for human coronavirus attachment to sialic acid receptors – 2.8 Å
- SARS-Coronavirus NSP12 bound to NSP7 and NSP8 co-factors – 3.1 Å
- MERS-CoV S structure in complex with 5-N-acetyl neuraminic acid – 2.5 Å
- MERS-CoV S structure in complex with 2,3-sialyl-N-acetyl-lactosamine – 2.7 Å
- MERS-CoV S structure in complex with sialyl-lewisX – 2.8 Å
- MERS-CoV complex with human neutralising LCA60 antibody Fab fragment (state 1) – 3.5 Å
- MERS-CoV S complex with human neutralising LCA60 antibody Fab fragment (state 2) – 3.6 Å
- MERS S0 trimer in complex with antibody G2 – 4.19 Å
Gatan K3 Camera
- Direct detection TEM camera
- Electron counting for high quality images
- Low dose for beam-sensitive materials and longer observations
- Large 24 megapixel field of view
Gatan Solarus II Plasma Cleaner
- Removes surface contamination from TEM/SEM samples and holders for better results
- Gentle cleaning for delicate samples
- Easy to use, with pre-programmed workflows
Blue Scientific is the official distributor of AMETEK Gatan systems in the Nordic region. We’re available to provide quotes and answer all your questions – just get in touch: