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.
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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.
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:
Cryo-EM structure of the 2019-nCoV spike in the prefusion conformation
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.
More about cryo-EM in structural biology
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: