Core Technology Facilities
The LMB’s Core Technology Facilities (CTF) ensure that LMB researchers have access to the highest quality scientific technologies on site.
The facilities are led and staffed by scientists with the expertise and organisational experience needed to carry out large scale projects and to aid collaborative research across the LMB’s divisions.
In addition to the CTF there are a number of specialist Scientific Support facilities serving the needs of LMB researchers.
Together, the CTF and Scientific Support give researchers access to the platform technologies and equipment they need to facilitate, enhance and speed up their research.
The CTF have recently benefitted from the move to the LMB’s new building, which provides improved space for centralised facilities and room for potential future expansion.
See the links for more information on individual Core Technology Facilities and how they contribute to the work of scientists at the LMB.
Biological Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Laboratory
The Biological Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Laboratory principally employs electrospray ionization mass spectrometry as the key technology for both qualitative and quantitative characterisation of proteins. However, the Laboratory has access to several mass spectrometric technologies, including MALDI, thereby allowing investigators to adopt multiple analytical strategies. The basic approach for protein analysis is ‘bottom-up’ proteomics, where proteins are initially enzymatically digested with proteases producing a peptide pool representative of the original proteins.
J Mark Skehel is Head of the Biological Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Group.
Biophysics is an interdisciplinary science that applies theories and methods from the physical sciences to questions in biology. Biophysical techniques can contribute to all areas of structural biology from expression and purification issues through to high resolution structure and can probe interactions and biology from single molecules through to whole cells. These methods have been central to the success of many research programmes in the LMB. Researchers can access the most common biophysical techniques (AUC, ITC, DSC, CD, LD, MALS, QELS, SPR and fluorescence) and a number of ‘in-house’ instruments for performing the latest cutting edge techniques in rapid reaction kinetics or single molecule spectroscopy.
To help researchers to make their own routine measurements, the biophysical facilities team provides training and runs an annual lecture series on methods and instrumentation within the LMB. In addition, team members are available to discuss proposed experiments and advise on the results of routine experiments; and they can also form collaborative projects, where there is a requirement for specialist skills in the design and execution of the work and/or in complex data analysis.
Electron Microscopy Facility
The facility is primarily intended for hands-on research by students, postdocs and group leaders, who prepare specimens, operate the EMs and analyse the resulting images or diffraction patterns themselves.
Future plans include implementing technical developments that can improve the quality of cryoEM structures and replacing older microscopes to tie in with the move to the new building.
In addition to the in-house equipment, members of the LMB are part of the international electron microscopy community and have access to additional equipment in other laboratories around the world, on a reciprocal basis.
The electron microscopy facility is managed by Shaoxia Chen.
Flow Cytometry Facility
The facility provides researchers with both a service and training in new techniques. For example, it provides advanced flow cytometry applications, such as DNA cell cycle analysis, cell proliferation and apoptosis measurements, calcium flux measurements, and multi-colour immunofluorescence analysis. It also supports innovative techniques such as sorting of particles, emulsions or bacteria and provides a routine cell sorting service including single cell cloning, rare event sorting and high speed sorting.
Users of the facility have access to eight flow cytometers. There are three high-speed sorters capable of sorting at rates of up to 70,000 cells per second (two Sony Synergy systems and one Beckman Coulter MoFlo). There are five analysers (one Fortessa, one LSRII, one Eclipse, and two FACSCaliburs).
Image Processing System
The centrally important procedures are the averaging of many images of the sub-unit to improve the signal, the correction for various transfer functions, and the generation of a three-dimensional map from a set of two-dimensional projections. The detailed way in which these computational procedures are best carried out depends on the symmetry of the object and the type of specimen preparation.
The LMB now has a set of (over 80) programs, written by various members of the LMB, for processing images of two-dimensional crystals and of particles with helical or icosahedral symmetry. The LMB’s philosophy has been to write stand-alone programs and to give the whole system coherence by adopting standard formats for the storage and interchange of different kinds of data.
The Image processing system is managed by Jude Short.
Light Microscopy Facility
The new LMB building provides 18 microscopy rooms distributed throughout the divisions, as well as a centralised light microscopy facility housing advanced and specialised microscopes. This facility houses three new super resolution microscopes (using structured Illumination, single molecule localization and stimulated emission depletion) offering image resolution below 50nm in suitably prepared samples. In addition, LMB researchers can access specialist, advanced equipment in other local laboratories.
The Light Microscopy Facility is headed by Nick Barry, an optical physicist and specialist in light microscopy.
Microfluidics fabrication is managed by Paul Dear.
NMR Spectroscopy Facility
Relevant advanced solution state NMR methods are implemented and can be adapted to the specific needs of LMB projects. Supported key research areas include ubiquitination and autophagy, function and dynamics of multidomain complexes and functional studies of membrane proteins.
The state of the art NMR facility – located in a separate, purpose-built building – houses 500, 600, 700 and 800 MHz spectrometers, all equipped with cryoprobes and multichannel configuration. It also provides robotics for screening small molecule compound libraries against potential drug targets.
Stefan Freund is Head of the NMR Facility.
Staff from the Scientific Computing team are available to provide advice on computational problems and access to a wide range of scientific software is freely available.
Scientific Computing is headed by Jake Grimmett.
Transgenic Mouse Facility
The facility also provides a high-throughput genotyping service for the LMB.