UCLA biochemists have achieved a first in biology: viewing at near-atomic detail the smallest protein ever seen by the technique whose development won its creators the 2017 Nobel Prize in chemistry. That technique, called cryo-electron microscopy, enables scientists to see large biomolecules, such as viruses, in extraordinary detail.
Until now, this method has not worked with the thousands of much smaller proteins, which can cause diseases if defective, that are inside cells. A team led by Todd Yeates, a UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry, reports results that hold the promise of using cryo-electron microscopy to better understand many important proteins. The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.