Article: article from journal or magazin.
Unexpected property of trehalose as observed by cryo-electron microscopy
Journal of Microscopy
Journal article --- Old month value: Oct
Trehalose is an agent useful in maintaining the integrity of many biological systems submitted to various stresses. It is also presumed to improve specimen preparation for electron microscopy and to reduce beam damage. Here we study the effect of trehalose on the preparation and observation by cryo-electron microscopy of thin vitrified films of biological suspensions. We observe that trehalose, as compared to sucrose, can indeed reduce electron beam damage to biological particles, as determined from the dose necessary for the onset of bubbling. Surprisingly, we also find that the contrast of biological particles is higher in a vitrified solution of trehalose than in one of sucrose. This effect can be explained if the water evaporation during the specimen preparation is less in the presence of trehalose than with sucrose, but we do not yet understand the underlying reasons since the evaporation properties of both sugars are similar at a macroscopic level. We conclude that trehalose is truly a remarkable substance and that more investigation is needed in order to fully understand its properties, and that the addition of ca. 3-5% trehalose to biological suspensions is a simple and useful method to reduce commonly arising drying artefacts and water evaporation in the thin film vitrification method.
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