2023Basanta Graphene

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Basanta, Benjamin / Chen, Wenqian / Pride, Daniel E. / Lander, Gabriel C. Fabrication of Monolayer Graphene-Coated Grids forCryoelectron Microscopy. 2023. JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments), Vol. 199, p. e65702


Cryogenic electron microscopy (cryoEM) has emerged as a powerful technique for probing the atomic structure of macromolecular complexes. Sample preparation for cryoEM requires preserving specimens in a thin layer of vitreous ice, typically suspended within the holes of a fenestrated support film. However, all commonly used sample preparation approaches for cryoEM studies expose the specimen to the air-water interface, introducing a strong hydrophobic effect on the specimen that often results in denaturation, aggregation, and complex dissociation. Further, preferred hydrophobic interactions between regions of the specimen and the air-water interface impact the orientations adopted by the macromolecules, resulting in 3D reconstructions with anisotropic directional resolution.

Adsorption of cryoEM specimens to a monolayer of graphene has been shown to help mitigate interactions with the air-water interface while minimizing the introduction of background noise. Graphene supports also offer the benefit of substantially lowering the required concentration of proteins required for cryoEM imaging. Despite the advantages of these supports, graphene-coated grids are not widely used by the cryoEM community due to the prohibitive expense of commercial options and the challenges associated with large-scale in-house production. This paper describes an efficient method for preparing batches of cryoEM grids that have nearly full coverage of monolayer graphene.




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