EMPAS: Electron Microscopy Screening for Endogenous Protein Architectures

Mol Cells. 2020 Sep 30;43(9):804-812. doi: 10.14348/molcells.2020.0163.


In cells, proteins form macromolecular complexes to execute their own unique roles in biological processes. Conventional structural biology methods adopt a bottom-up approach starting from defined sets of proteins to investigate the structures and interactions of protein complexes. However, this approach does not reflect the diverse and complex landscape of endogenous molecular architectures. Here, we introduce a top-down approach called Electron Microscopy screening for endogenous Protein ArchitectureS (EMPAS) to investigate the diverse and complex landscape of endogenous macromolecular architectures in an unbiased manner. By applying EMPAS, we discovered a spiral architecture and identified it as AdhE. Furthermore, we performed screening to examine endogenous molecular architectures of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), mouse brains, cyanobacteria and plant leaves, revealing their diverse repertoires of molecular architectures. This study suggests that EMPAS may serve as a tool to investigate the molecular architectures of endogenous macromolecular proteins.

Keywords: microscopy; protein; screening; structure.