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Advanced cryo-tomography workflow developments - correlative microscopy, milling automation and cryo-lift-out

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Erdmann,  Philipp
Baumeister, Wolfgang / Molecular Structural Biology, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Rigort,  Alexander
Baumeister, Wolfgang / Molecular Structural Biology, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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jmi.12939.pdf
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Citation

Kuba, J., Mitchels, J., Hovorka, M., Erdmann, P., Berka, L., Kirmse, R., et al. (2020). Advanced cryo-tomography workflow developments - correlative microscopy, milling automation and cryo-lift-out. Journal of Microscopy. doi:10.1111/jmi.12939.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-C9AA-8
Abstract
Cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) is a groundbreaking technology for 3D visualisation and analysis of biomolecules in the context of cellular structures. It allows structural investigations of single proteins as well as their spatial arrangements within the cell. Cryo-tomograms provide a snapshot of the complex, heterogeneous and transient subcellular environment. Due to the excellent structure preservation in amorphous ice, it is possible to study interactions and spatial relationships of proteins in their native state without interference caused by chemical fixatives or contrasting agents. With the introduction of focused ion beam (FIB) technology, the preparation of cellular samples for electron tomography has become much easier and faster. The latest generation of integrated FIB and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) instruments (dual beam microscopes), specifically designed for cryo-applications, provides advances in automation, imaging and the preparation of high-pressure frozen bulk samples using cryo-lift-out technology. In addition, correlative cryo-fluorescence microscopy provides cellular targeting information through integrated software and hardware interfaces. The rapid advances, based on the combination of correlative cryo-microscopy, cryo-FIB and cryo-ET, have already led to a wealth of new insights into cellular processes and provided new 3D image data of the cell. Here we introduce our recent developments within the cryo-tomography workflow, and we discuss the challenges that lie ahead. Lay Description This article describes our recent developments for the cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) workflow. Cryo-ET offers superior structural preservation and provides 3D snapshots of the interior of vitrified cells at molecular resolution. Before a cellular sample can be imaged by cryo-ET, it must be made accessible for transmission electron microscopy. This is achieved by preparing a 200-300 nm thin cryo-lamella from the cellular sample using a cryo-focused ion beam (cryo-FIB) microscope. Cryo-correlative light and electron microscopy (cryo-CLEM) is used within the workflow to guide the cryo-lamella preparation to the cellular areas of interest. We cover a basic introduction of the cryo-ET workflow and show new developments for cryo-CLEM, which facilitate the connection between the cryo-light microscope and the cryo-FIB. Next, we present our progress in cryo-FIB software automation to streamline cryo-lamella preparation. In the final section we demonstrate how the cryo-FIB can be used for 3D imaging and how bulk-frozen cellular samples (obtained by high-pressure freezing) can be processed using the newly developed cryo-lift-out technology.