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Microfluidic protein isolation and sample preparation for high resolution cryo-EM

By Claudio Schmidli, Stefan Albiez, Luca Rima, Ricardo Righetto, Inayatulla Mohammed, Paolo Oliva, Lubomir Kovacik, Henning Stahlberg, Thomas Braun

Posted 21 Feb 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/556068 (published DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1907214116)

High-resolution structural information is essential to understand protein function. Protein-structure determination needs a considerable amount of protein, which can be challenging to produce, often involving harsh and lengthy procedures. In contrast, the several thousands to a few million protein particles required for structure-determination by cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) can be provided by miniaturized systems. Here, we present a microfluidic method for the rapid isolation of a target protein and its direct preparation for cryo-EM. Less than one microliter of cell lysate is required as starting material to solve the atomic structure of the untagged, endogenous human 20S proteasome. Our work paves the way for high-throughput structure determination of proteins from minimal amounts of cell lysate and opens new opportunities for the isolation of sensitive, endogenous protein complexes.

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