A closer look at the advantages of cryo-electron tomography at ISTA
We recently had the opportunity to meet with the Schur Group at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) who shared the advantages of cryo-electron tomography protein visualization for advancing their structural biology research.
In this video series, we learn from Florian Schur, Group Leader of Structural Biology of Cell Migration and Viral Infection at ISTA, about how he and his team use cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) and cryo-ET to better understand the structural and functional principles that control cell migration processes, as well as for the study of infectious viruses in their native environments.
This interview has been adapted for readability. For the full dialogue, please watch each video in the series.
Advancing cell migration and infectious virus research using cryo-electron tomography
Florian Schur: “I got exposed to electron microscopy and was very fascinated by the method. I got infected by the electron microscopy virus. Our lab focuses on two biological topics. Cell migration, so how cells can move from one point to another, and also viral infections. We are interested in the assembly mechanisms that specific viruses use to build infectious virus particles such as retroviruses or other large DNA viruses. These viruses that we study are important from different perspectives. They are either human pathogens where it’s important to understand how they work or they act as role models to understand viral biology better.”
Victor-Valentin Hodirnau, Cryo-EM Specialist: “We have the entire portfolio starting from simple preparation in terms of plant-freezing over an Aquilos 2 [Cryo-FIB] where we can prepare lamellas and even lift outs, which are very helpful in the end for the Krios [Cryo-TEM] to get demographic data at high resolution.”
Cryo-electron tomography protein visualization with atomic resolution detail
Florian Schur: “So with the workflow that we have now fully established at ISTA, we can really address a multitude of questions going from cell biology to high resolution structural biology all within a native context. The Aquilos 2 really has opened up new research questions for us as we are now able to look into samples that previously were not accessible. It allows us to visualize cell biological details or important biological mechanisms within very complex tissues or very complex samples to study proteins at atomic resolution detail.”
Jumping into cryo-EM techniques for structural biology research
Bettina Zens, PhD student, Schur Group, ISTA: “If you would have asked me five years ago if I would have worked with cryo-EM, I would have said, “No way.” But then during my first here at the Institute of Science and Technology in Austria, we have a lot of rotations. And out of these rotations came a really exciting project for me, both in terms of biology, but also in terms of developing an innovative workflow using state-of-the-art microscopes. And that’s basically what got me into structural biology and especially working with cryo-EM.”
Brianna Radicioni is a communications manager at Thermo Fisher Scientific. This vlog on the advantages of cryo-electron tomography was developed in collaboration with the Schur Group at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria located near Vienna.