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Electron cryomicroscopy is a powerful structural biology technique

We study the structures of molecular assemblies using biochemical and biophysical techniques, and subsequently visualise them by electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM). By this technique, large macromolecular structures and multi-protein complexes can be studied in their near-native environment without the need for crystalisation. Small amounts of material are sufficient to obtain ‘snapshots’ of single particles in the electron cryomicroscope. The molecular images are combined by computer-aided image processing techniques to compute their 3D structures.

HelixClose-up of a-helix including sidechain density.
Copyright: 2018 Carsten Sachse

As recent advances in hardware and software have led to a wave of atomic-resolution structures, cryo-EM shows great promise in becoming a routine tool for high-resolution structure determination of large macromolecules. To further realise the potential of the technique, the scientific community is still in great need of hardware-based improvements and software enhancements.

Therefore, we are also interested in developing techniques, including sample preparation and data processing, to routinely achieve atomic-resolution structures by single-particle cryo-EM. For example, in our group we actively develop the software SPRING for high-resolution cryo-EM structure determination of specimens with helical symmetry.

Electron cryomicroscopyHigh-resolution cross section of tobacco mosaic virus at 3.3 Å resolution using single-particle cryo-EM from direct electron detectors including  α-helical density (Fromm et al., J Struc Biol 2015).
Copyright: 2018 Carsten Sachse

Additional Information

Head of ER-C-3

Structural Biology (ER-C-3)


Prof. Dr. Carsten Sachse

Phone: +49 2461 61-2030
Fax: +49 2461 61-1448

Team assistant:
Melanie Hagen

Phone: +49 2461 61-2031
Fax: +49 2461 61-1448