The use of trehalose in the preparation of specimens for molecular electron microscopy

Po Lin Chiu, Deborah F. Kelly, Thomas Walz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Biological specimens have to be prepared for imaging in the electron microscope in a way that preserves their native structure. Two-dimensional (2D) protein crystals to be analyzed by electron crystallography are best preserved by sugar embedding. One of the sugars often used to embed 2D crystals is trehalose, a disaccharide used by many organisms for protection against stress conditions. Sugars such as trehalose can also be added to negative staining solutions used to prepare proteins and macromolecular complexes for structural studies by single-particle electron microscopy (EM). In this review, we describe trehalose and its characteristics that make it so well suited for preparation of EM specimens and we review specimen preparation methods with a focus on the use of trehalose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)762-772
Number of pages11
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology
  • General Materials Science
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Cell Biology


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