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Using cryo-EM methods to uncover structure and function of bacteriophages

Bacteriophages, or phages for short, are the most abundant biological entity in nature. They shape bacterial communities and are a major driving force in bacterial evolution.

R. Ouyang
05 december 2023
Thesis in Leiden Repository

Their ubiquitous nature and their potential use in medical and industrial applications make them attractive targets for fundamental and applied scientific studies. Understanding their structure and function at the molecular level is essential for understanding phage life cycles. In this thesis, I applied different cryo-EM techniques combined with advanced image processing and artificial intelligence methods to gain insight into structure and function of two bacteriophages. In both cases, these phages contain flexible elements which are essential for the infection process. While biologically highly interesting, these flexible components are especially challenging for structural studies. 
With the advances in computer technology and electron microscopy, researchers can now use various research methods to study different proteins and the structure and function of biological macromolecular machines. The studies presented in this thesis provide valuable insights into phages with flexible components, and provide a useful workflow for researchers with similar research topics.

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