Science II

…and on day 8 God created the electron microscope.

Today, monday, also presented organizational challenges for our little group.
Talk-wise, we were not as stressed as before, knowing pretty well which to attend, but the poster-sessions were so filled with interesting subjects, that we tried to mimick our little co-ordination trick from Saturday (see science I), and divided some of the posters over breakfast.

Image

This small place in the “Reading Market” right beside the convention center has got all you need in the morning of veggies, juices, yoghurt and a surprisingly ok coffee, and can be recommended.
At the poster session EM was to be found everywhere.

It is indeed a very powerful tool to illustrate many processes directly, and in particular with regard to membrane bending or fusions, it can provide very highly resolved information about states. In our lab we are using it to characterize tubules induced in vesicles by different protein-motifs, and I have been so used to looking at these structures, that when I went through a poster on two yeast N-BARs, and saw EMs on tubular structures, I immediately assumed it to be deformed membrane.
However, Agustina Olivera-Couto quickly told me that this was her control with protein alone, which were apparantly making stable lattices of tubular shapes! This illustrated two important points with EM:
#1 always be critical, and do your controls (of course)
#2 EM has its weaknesses in its inability to show what the structures consistent of, and should in most cases be combined with other techniques, such as fluorescence, before one draws final conclusions of what does what.

Tomorrow awaits another great day of science, where I’m expecting to see more EM at both talks and posters. Looking forward to it, in a interested critical manner 🙂

Ik

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