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Science  24 Jan 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6476, pp. 354-358
DOI: 10.1126/science.367.6476.354

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Summary

X-ray crystallography has dominated structural biology for decades, but some proteins just can't be coaxed to form crystals. Cryo–electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is challenging crystallography in resolution and surpassing it in purview: It opens up far more proteins to inspection and captures many more of their natural configurations. Cryo-EM dodges the problem of crystallization with a flash-freezing process that fixes a protein solution in thin films of glassy ice. But the technique has a big problem of its own: long waits to use extraordinarily expensive microscopes. Richard Henderson, a physicist at the United Kingdom's Laboratory for Molecular Biology, and a small group of confederates are trying to make cryo-EM affordable by building a cheaper microscope.

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