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Nano Lett. 2019 Jun 25. doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.9b01309. [Epub ahead of print]

Liquid-Cell Electron Tomography of Biological Systems.

Author information

1
Department of Biomedical Engineering , Pennsylvania State University , University Park , Pennsylvania 16802 , United States.
2
Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences , Pennsylvania State University , University Park , Pennsylvania 16802 , United States.
3
Center for Structural Oncology , Pennsylvania State University , University Park , Pennsylvania 16802 , United States.
4
Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute , Virginia Tech , Roanoke , Virginia 24016 , United States.
5
Department of Biological Sciences , Virginia Tech , Blacksburg , Virginia 24061 , United States.
6
Applications Science , Protochips Inc. , Morrisville , North Carolina 27560 , United States.

Abstract

Liquid-cell electron microscopy is a rapidly growing field in the imaging domain. While real-time observations are readily available to analyze materials and biological systems, these measurementshave been limited to the two-dimensional (2-D) image plane. Here, we introduce an exciting technical advance to image materials in 3-D while enclosed in liquid. The development of liquid-cell electron tomography permitted us to observe and quantify host-pathogen interactions in solution while contained in the vacuum system of the electron microscope. In doing so, we demonstrate new insights for the rules of engagement involving a unique bacteriophage and its host bacterium. A deeper analysis of the genetic content of the phage pathogens revealed structural features of the infectious units while introducing a new paradigm for host interactions. Overall, we demonstrate a technological opportunity to elevate research efforts for in situ imaging while providing a new level of dimensionality beyond the current state of the field.

KEYWORDS:

Liquid-cell; bacteriophage; electron tomography; silicon nitride

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