In situ TEM of Biological Assemblies in Liquid

Dukes, Madeline J., Brian L. Gilmore, Justin R. Tanner, Sarah M. McDonald and Deborah F. Kelly, 2013

Abstract

Researchers regularly use Transmission Electron Microscopes (TEMs) to examine biological entities and to assess new materials. Here, we describe an additional application for these instruments- viewing viral assemblies in a liquid environment. This exciting and novel method of visualizing biological structures utilizes a recently developed microfluidic-based specimen holder. Our video article demonstrates how to assemble and use a microfluidic holder to image liquid specimens within a TEM. In particular, we use simian rotavirus double-layered particles (DLPs) as our model system. We also describe steps to coat the surface of the liquid chamber with affinity biofilms that tether DLPs to the viewing window. This permits us to image assemblies in a manner that is suitable for 3D structure determination. Thus, we present a first glimpse of subviral particles in a native liquid environment.

Impact Statement

Method paper and corresponding video demonstrating step-by-step instructions for preparing “affinity-capture” functionalized Poseidon E-chips, capturing target species and imaging them in situ in liquid with TEM.
Keywords: Virus; Immobolization; Affinity-Chemistry