2, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, United States
3, Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory, Urbana, Illinois, United States
With advances in electron microscopy and image analysis over the past decade has come the ability to determine the structure of biomolecules with nanometer or better resolution. But what about their dynamics? When biomolecules self-assemble or carry out their function, motion is involved! We are using liquid-phase transmission electron microscopy (TEM), a recently developed imaging technique that combines the nanometer resolution of TEM with the ability to observe the continuous motions of individual particles preserved in solution, to investigate the nanoscale dynamics of biomolecules. In particular, we are using liquid-phase TEM to study the conformational dynamics of ryanodine receptor—a membrane protein ion channel involved in muscle contraction and calcium signaling—and the aggregation and disaggregation of amyloids—fibrillar structures formed from misfolded proteins—in the presence of a polymer-based inhibitor, in the hopes of shedding new light on the relationship between structure, dynamics, and function in these systems.