The research team reproduced the 3D structure responsible for gene expression.

Researchers collected hundreds of thousands of images of the Med-PIC complex, and then used computational methods to reconstruct a 3D image of gene expression.

The researchers visualized the high-resolution dataset using cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM). Because the process of gene expression plays a role in many diseases, such as cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, HIV and metabolic disorders. If scientists understand its structure, then they can use this knowledge to treat patients.

This is the first time that a human transmitter complex has been visualized in 3D in a human cell.

To do this, the team placed a sample of the cell on a graphene oxide layer. So the graphene sheet minimized the amount of sample required for imaging. And compared to the typical substrate used – amorphous carbon – graphene has improved the signal-to-noise ratio to produce sharper images.

The scientists assembled the final picture literally like a puzzle. As a result, they got an image in the form of a flat elongated structure 45 nanometers long.