Helping researchers to see how pathogens communicate
The University of Edinburgh has world-leading expertise in understanding pathogens and how they communicate with host cells to establish infections and transmit between individuals.
Dr Amy Buck’s lab investigates how pathogens release small extracellular vesicles to shuttle their molecules directly into cells in order to change the immune response. However, vesicles are tiny (100-1000 fold smaller than a human cell).
PhD student Ruby White used the cryo-EM facility to visualise the native structures of the vesicles and understand the surface molecules that enable them to enter specific host cells.
This basic research not only informs the tricks that pathogens use to survive in their hosts, but could also lead to basic understanding of vesicle trafficking that is relevant to other diseases. For example, vesicles are important in neurodegeneration and cancer, where they are released from tumours and can change cells in the microenvironment.
The Cryo-EM facility offers high-resolution imaging of biological samples under cryogenic conditions as well as electron crystallography capability.
Martin Singleton, Facility Manager
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