Light Microscopy area at the Crick.

Mass photometry: weighing molecules with light

  • Event date:
  • Start time: 14:00 End time: - 15:30
  • Event Location: Join Zoom meeting
  • Event Type: Symposia

Crick Advanced Image & Analysis Forum meetings are taking place again and the speaker for September is Professor Philipp Kukura from Exeter College, Oxford

Interactions between biomolecules control the processes of life in health, and their malfunction in disease, making their characterization and quantification essential to our understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms. I will introduce mass photometry, the accurate mass measurement of individual molecules in solution by light scattering, as a general approach for studying biomolecular structure, function, and regulation.

I will illustrate the reach of mass photometry by demonstrating its applicability to both nucleic acids and membrane proteins in addition to lipids, sugars and polypeptides, thereby covering the majority of biomolecules. Combination of this broad applicability with the ability to accurately determine the relative amounts of species in complex mixtures without the need for labels or other sample modifications results in a universal method to study interaction stoichiometries, energetics and kinetics.

More trivially, although no less powerful, I will show that mass photometry sets new standards for evaluating sample homogeneity, which will likely have considerable impact on structural biology workflows, and in vitro studies of protein function and regulation more generally.

Taken together, these results establish mass photometry as an extremely powerful, solution-based, label-free, yet single molecule method to quantify and thereby study biomolecular structure and interactions. In combination with future improvements in both technical capabilities and assays, mass photometry could realise the dream of revealing biomolecular mechanisms directly at the molecular level.