Two-dimensional crystallization on lipid monolayers is a versatile tool to obtain structural information of proteins by electron microscopy. An inherent problem with this approach is to prepare samples in a way that preserves the crystalline order of the protein array and produces specimens that are sufficiently flat for high-resolution data collection at high tilt angles. As a test specimen to optimize the preparation of lipid monolayer crystals for electron microscopy imaging, we used the S-layer protein sbpA, a protein with potential for designing arrays of both biological and inorganic materials with engineered properties for a variety of nanotechnology applications. Sugar embedding is currently considered the best method to prepare two-dimensional crystals of membrane proteins reconstituted into lipid bilayers. We found that using a loop to transfer lipid monolayer crystals to an electron microscopy grid followed by embedding in trehalose and quick-freezing in liquid ethane also yielded the highest resolution images for sbpA lipid monolayer crystals. Using images of specimens prepared in this way we could calculate a projection map of sbpA at 7 Å resolution, one of the highest resolution projection structures obtained with lipid monolayer crystals to date.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Structural Biology