Cryo-transmission electron tomography (cryo-ET) in association with cryo-focused ion beam (cryo-FIB) milling enables structural biology studies to be performed directly within the cellular environment. Cryo-preserved cells are milled and a lamella with a typical thickness of 200–300 nm provides an electron transparent window suitable for cryo-ET imaging. Cryo-FIB milling is an effective method, but it is a tedious and time-consuming process, which typically results in ~10 lamellae per day. Here, we introduce an automated method to reproducibly prepare cryo-lamellae on a grid and reduce the amount of human supervision. We tested the routine on cryo-preserved Saccharomyces cerevisiae, mammalian 293 T cells, and lysozyme protein crystals. Here we demonstrate that our method allows an increased throughput, achieving a rate of 5 lamellae/hour without the need to supervise the FIB milling. We demonstrate that the quality of the lamellae is consistent throughout the preparation and their compatibility with cryo-ET analyses.
- In situ structural biology
Georg Ramm (Manager), Viola M.J. Oorschot (Operator), Simon Andrew Crawford (Operator), Hariprasad Venugopal (Operator), Joan Marea Clark (Operator) & Gediminas Gervinskas (Operator)Office of the Vice-Provost (Research and Research Infrastructure)