The steep increase of atomic scale structures determined by 3D cryo-electron microscopy (EM) deposited in the EMDataBank documents progress of a methodology that was frustratingly slow ten years ago. While sample vitrification on grids has been successfully used in all EM laboratories for decades, beam damage remains a road block. Developments in instrumentation and software to exploit the information carried by elastically scattered electrons made the task to achieve atomic scale resolution easier. This together with the development of fast single electron detecting cameras has resulted in unprecedented possibilities for structure determination by 3D cryo-EM. With such technologies in place, the purification of membrane protein complexes in a functional state is key to collecting atomic scale structural information and insight into the chemistry of physiological processes. Therefore, we focus here on the preparation of membrane proteins for structural analyses by 3D cryo-EM and the data acquisition of such vitrified samples.
- 2D crystals