Visualizing macromolecular complexes with in situ liquid scanning transmission electron microscopy

Micron. 2012 Nov;43(11):1085-90. doi: 10.1016/j.micron.2012.01.018. Epub 2012 Feb 15.


A central focus of biological research is understanding the structure/function relationship of macromolecular protein complexes. Yet conventional transmission electron microscopy techniques are limited to static observations. Here we present the first direct images of purified macromolecular protein complexes using in situ liquid scanning transmission electron microscopy. Our results establish the capability of this technique for visualizing the interface between biology and nanotechnology with high fidelity while also probing the interactions of biomolecules within solution. This method represents an important advancement towards allowing future high-resolution observations of biological processes and conformational dynamics in real-time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Apoferritins / ultrastructure*
  • Ferritins / ultrastructure*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning Transmission / methods*
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Solutions


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Solutions
  • Ferritins
  • Apoferritins