Sample Preparation using a Lipid Monolayer Method for Electron Crystallographic Studies

Chloe D. Truong, Dewight R. Williams, Mary Zhu, Joseph Che Yen Wang, Po Lin Chiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Electron crystallography is a powerful tool for high-resolution structure determination. Macromolecules such as soluble or membrane proteins can be grown into highly ordered two-dimensional (2D) crystals under favorable conditions. The quality of the grown 2D crystals is crucial to the resolution of the final reconstruction via 2D image processing. Over the years, lipid monolayers have been used as a supporting layer to foster the 2D crystallization of peripheral membrane proteins as well as soluble proteins. This method can also be applied to 2D crystallization of integral membrane proteins but requires more extensive empirical investigation to determine detergent and dialysis conditions to promote partitioning to the monolayer. A lipid monolayer forms at the air-water interface such that the polar lipid head groups remain hydrated in the aqueous phase and the non-polar, acyl chains, tails partition into the air, breaking the surface tension and flattening the water surface. The charged nature or distinctive chemical moieties of the head groups provide affinity for proteins in solution, promoting binding for 2D array formation. A newly formed monolayer with the 2D array can be readily transfer into an electron microscope (EM) on a carbon-coated copper grid used to lift and support the crystalline array. In this work, we describe a lipid monolayer methodology for cryogenic electron microscopic (cryo-EM) imaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere63015
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number177
StatePublished - Nov 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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