Recent technological breakthroughs in single-particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) enable rapid atomic structure determination of biological macromolecules. A major bottleneck in the current single particle cryo-EM pipeline is the preparation of good quality frozen cryo-EM grids, which is mostly a trial-and-error process. Among many issues, preferred particle orientation and sample damage by air–water interface (AWI) are common practical problems. Here we report a method of applying metallo-supramolecular branched polymer (MSBP) in the cryo-sample preparation for high-resolution single-particle cryo-EM. Our data shows that MSBP keeps a majority of particles away from air–water interface and mitigates preferred orientation as verified by the analyses of apoferritin, hemagglutinin) trimer and various sample proteins. The use of MSBP is a simple method to improve particle distribution for high-resolution structure determination in single-particle cryo-EM.
Citation: Xu, Y., Qin, Y., Wang, L. et al. Metallo-supramolecular branched polymer protects particles from air-water interface in single-particle cryo-electron microscopy. Commun Biol 7, 65 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-023-05752-8