In recent years cryo-EM has become a driving tool in obtaining high-resolution structures of proteins, reaching 2 Å resolution. In contrast to crystallography, only small amounts of sample are needed and the sample is visualized in its native, soluble state. Cryo-EM has also become extremely successful for membrane proteins, many of which are drug targets. Cryo-EM not only allows solving of proteins structures, but also the visualization of bound small molecules in order to validate drug leads for rational drug design.
This year we are commissioning the VIB-VUB Biological Electron Cryogenic Microscopy center (BCEM) located in Brussels (www.cryo-em.be). BECM is a user oriented facility, open to academic and industrial partners from across Europe. The facility will be equipped with the top notch new generation 300 kV JEOL cryoARM300 electron microscope equipped with in-column omega filter, hole-free phase plate and K3 direct electron detector. Furthermore, two 120 kV screening microscopes will be available for fast sample screening and optimization.
The facility will specialize in single particle cryo-EM to solve high-resolution structures of protein complexes and in cryo-tomography. Dedicated staff at BECM will assist with data collection and sample preparation. For industrial partners different modes of accessing BECM services are available from simple pay-for-service data collection to execution of a complete project starting with project design to solving high-resolution structures of the protein of interest.