BER Structural Biology and Imaging Resources
Synchrotron, Neutron, and Cryo-EM
U.S. Department of Energy | Office of Science | Office of Biological and Environmental Research

Cell Membrane Proteins Imaged in 3D

April 13, 2020

Feature Story

Ultrabright X-rays revealed the concentration of erbium (yellow) and zinc (red) in a single Escherichia coli cell expressing a lanthanide-binding tag and incubated with erbium. [Reprinted with permission from Victor et al. 2020. “Lanthanide-Binding Tags for 3D X-Ray Imaging of Proteins in Cells at Nanoscale Resolution,” Journal of the American Chemical Society 142(5), 2145–49. Copyright 2020 American Chemical Society.]

Using ultrabright X-rays, researchers at the National Synchrotron Light Source II have demonstrated a new technique for imaging proteins in three dimensions with nanoscale resolution. Their approach, which employs X-ray fluorescence microscopy, enables scientists to identify the precise location of proteins within individual cells, reaching the resolution of the cell membrane and the smallest subcellular organelles.

Reference
Victor, T. W., et al. 2020. “Lanthanide-Binding Tags for 3D X-Ray Imaging of Proteins in Cells at Nanoscale Resolution,” Journal of the American Chemical Society 142(5), 2145–49. [DOI:10.1021/jacs.9b11571]