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Development of Platform Technology

One focus of our lab is the generation of lipid assemblies with defined geometries. While even integral membrane proteins can be solubilized using detergents, which have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years, it could often been demonstrated that their activity suffers if brought outside their native lipid environment. Of special interest to us are tubular lipid-assemblies as these have the additional promise of bringing individual proteins into a (1D) crystalline lattice, thus increasing the symmetry of the sample studied.

To date, electron microscopy is still largely used akin to X-ray crystallography, that is on highly purified and static samples arrested e.g. by non-hydrolysable nucleotides. However, while more complicated to work with, dynamic samples often tell the more interesting (biological) story. Consequently, we are trying to advance methods to work with these samples, ranging from timed freezing aimed at trapping reaction intermediates to the use of liquid flow chambers that are shielded from the vacuum inside the microscope.