Laboratory of molecular electron microscopy

Tamir Gonen

The laboratory of molecular electron microscopy, headed by Tamir Gonen, is located at the David Geffen Medical School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles.

Our laboratory studies the structures of membrane proteins. Based on structure we try to understand function and what goes wrong in disease. We focus primarily on proteins in the blood-brain barrier. The long-standing question in our laboratory is how the thousands of membrane channels and transporters that exist in the cell membrane work together to help cells maintain homeostasis. With that question in mind, we study membrane proteins that are involved in nutrient, ion, and water uptake, waste removal, signaling, and communication.

Our laboratory is multidisciplinary. Over the last decade we have employed structural biology techniques such as electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM), X-ray crystallography, NMR, molecular dynamics simulations, and used membrane biochemistry and biophysics to understand the function of the proteins of interest. Within electron microscopy we have published papers using electron tomography, single particle reconstructions, and electron crystallography. However, our specialty lies in electron diffraction.

Part of our laboratory is also devoted to method development in cryo-EM. In recent years we have developed two important methods in electron diffraction, namely fragment-based phase extension and MicroED.