Find Proteins and Stop Superbugs.
Ok. Superbug reached us. You can stop it. This week researchers found a bug that was resistant to ALL antibiotics. So yeah. Bad news bears. What’s going to make the difference? One person – ONE PERSON – that makes that discovery that blows it all out of the water. Best part? You, oh layman, can be that one person.
Cryo electron microscopy, or cryo-EM, is a fast-growing field in structural biology. By freezing biological samples in ice and viewing them through an electron microscope, scientists can construct models of proteins and viruses that were impossible to image with previous methods. Through the collection and processing of thousands of images, some structures are even approaching atomic resolution, meaning they are able to discern individual atom structures within proteins. Before any of these exciting results can be achieved a number of steps have to be taken, some of which are quite tedious. Currently most cryo-EM scientists utilize an automatic program for picking individual proteins out of microscope images. However, there is ample reason to believe that these programs produce erroneous results and miss many usable protein particles. We hope to utilize the power of the human eye to better pick particles, in this case picking proteasome lid proteins from micrographs taken with one of the most powerful electron microscopes available.
So, why does Zooniverse need you? Reconstructing a protein is a highly sensitive process, any particles that are incorrectly marked can cause mistakes in the final reconstruction. Automatic pickers are notorious for mistaking noise for particles. In addition, they can often miss valid particles, not properly pick out the center of a particle, or, depending on their methods, introduce bias into the dataset. We hope that by showing these images to unbiased citizen scientists, we can create better datasets and, by extension, more detailed models of proteins and other biomolecules.
Our MOST FAVE ZOONIVERSE DISCOVERY??? Check out this Ted talk on the most mysterious star in the universe. It’ll blow your mind.
Ready to do this thing? It literally couldn’t be any easier. And if you get addicted and want to check out their other citizen-action projects to save the earth, check out the full list of Zooniverse projects.
Go here. Watch the short tutorial. Discover Proteins. Drop the mic.