3D Visualization of Proteins within Metal–Organic Frameworks via Ferritin-Enabled Electron Microscopy

Rakia Dhaoui, Saira L. Cazarez, Li Xing, Elmira Baghdadi, Justin T. Mulvey, Nehal S. Idris, Paul J. Hurst, M. Paula Vena, Giuseppe Di Palma, Joseph P. Patterson (Corresponding author)

Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan tijdschriftTijdschriftartikelAcademicpeer review

1 Citaat (Scopus)


Electron tomography holds great promise as a tool for investigating the 3D morphologies and internal structures of metal-organic framework-based protein biocomposites (protein@MOFs). Understanding the 3D spatial arrangement of proteins within protein@MOFs is paramount for developing synthetic methods to control their spatial localization and distribution patterns within the biocomposite crystals. In this study, the naturally occurring iron oxide mineral core of the protein horse spleen ferritin (Fn) is leveraged as a contrast agent to directly observe individual proteins once encapsulated into MOFs by electron microscopy techniques. This methodology couples scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and electron tomography to garner detailed 2D and 3D structural interpretations of where proteins spatially lie in Fn@MOF crystals, addressing the significant gaps in understanding how synthetic conditions relate to overall protein spatial localization and aggregation. These findings collectively reveal that adjusting the ligand-to-metal ratios, protein concentration, and the use of denaturing agents alters how proteins are arranged, localized, and aggregated within MOF crystals.

Originele taal-2Engels
Aantal pagina's11
TijdschriftAdvanced Functional Materials
Nummer van het tijdschrift13
Vroegere onlinedatum15 dec. 2023
StatusGepubliceerd - 25 mrt. 2024


This work was primarily supported by the National Science Foundation (CBET Award #2102033). The authors acknowledge the use of facilities and instrumentation at the UC Irvine Materials Research Institute (IMRI), which was supported in part by the National Science Foundation through the UC Irvine Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (DMR‐2011967). Valuable discussions and technical assistance from Project Scientists Qiyin Lin, Ich Tran, and Toshihiro Aoki at IMRI are gratefully acknowledged. Use of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under Contract No. DE‐AC02‐76SF00515. In addition, R.D. was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and S.L.C. was supported by the University of California's Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees (UC LEADS) Program.

National Science Foundation(NSF)2102033
U.S. Department of Energy
University of California Office of the President
Office of Science
Basic Energy SciencesDE‐AC02‐76SF00515
Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, Harvard UniversityDMR‐2011967
UC Irvine Materials Research Institute


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