In the last several years electron cryo-tomography (cryo-ET) has made it possible to see inside intact cells in a near-native, "frozen-hydrated" state in 3-D to a few nanometers resolution. Increasingly, atomic models of individual proteins and smaller complexes obtained by single-particle cryo-EM, X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, or prediction can be fit into the resulting 3D images (“cryotomograms”) to reveal how the various pieces work together inside cells. A few good pictures sometimes give incredible new insight into structure and function. To illustrate these points, I will present our recent work on the Legionella pneumophila Dot/Icm type IV secretion system (T4SS) and the unfolded protein response sensor IRE1α. I will also report on our efforts to improve cryo-ET technology and more broadly disseminate results.
Student Host: Qianqiao (Heather) Liu - Dr. Michael A. Recny Graduate Fellow