Future Trends in Cryo-EM Research: Insights from PP2A:B55 Holoenzyme Structures

Analyzing Future Trends in Cryo-electron Microscopy Research

Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) has revolutionized the field of structural biology by enabling scientists to visualize biological macromolecules with unprecedented detail. In a recent study published in Nature, researchers have utilized cryo-EM to determine the structures of the PP2A:B55 holoenzyme in complex with two of its inhibitors, ARPP19 and FAM122A. The study not only provides valuable insights into the mechanisms of inhibition but also sets the stage for potential future trends in cryo-EM research.

Understanding Distinct Binding Modes

The key finding of this study is the revelation of distinct binding modes between the PP2A:B55 holoenzyme and its inhibitors ARPP19 and FAM122A. The cryo-EM structures clearly demonstrate how these inhibitors interact with specific regions of the enzyme, thereby blocking its activity. This knowledge opens up new possibilities for designing targeted therapeutics that can modulate the function of the PP2A:B55 complex, which is involved in various cellular processes.

Advancements in Cryo-EM Technology

This study showcases the continued advancements in cryo-EM technology and its widespread application in structural biology. Over the past decade, cryo-EM has transitioned from being a technique limited to a few specialized laboratories to becoming a mainstream tool for many researchers. These advancements have significantly improved the resolution and speed of data acquisition, making cryo-EM an essential method for studying complex biological systems.

Future trends in cryo-EM technology are likely to focus on further improving resolution and the ability to capture dynamic processes. Innovations in detector technologies and image processing algorithms will enhance the quality of data and increase the speed at which structures can be determined. Additionally, the development of new cryo-EM instrumentation may enable the study of larger macromolecular assemblies and facilitate the visualization of transient interactions.

Integration with Other Structural Techniques

Cryo-EM research is becoming increasingly integrated with other structural techniques, such as X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Combining data from multiple techniques allows researchers to obtain complementary information and validate their findings more robustly. This integration enables them to study complex biological systems comprehensively, providing a more complete understanding of their structure and function.

Applications in Drug Discovery

The cryo-EM structures of the PP2A:B55 holoenzyme bound to its inhibitors ARPP19 and FAM122A have important implications for drug discovery. By understanding the specific interactions between inhibitors and their target proteins, researchers can design small molecules that mimic or disrupt these interactions. This knowledge can guide the development of therapeutics that modulate the activity of the PP2A:B55 complex for the treatment of diseases such as cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, and viral infections.

Recommendations for the Industry

Based on the current trends and advancements in cryo-EM research, there are several recommendations for the industry:

  1. Invest in Cryo-EM Infrastructure: Pharmaceutical companies, research institutions, and government agencies should allocate resources to establish state-of-the-art cryo-EM infrastructure. This will enable scientists from diverse fields to access this powerful technique and facilitate breakthrough discoveries.
  2. Encourage Collaboration: Foster collaborations between cryo-EM researchers, biologists, chemists, and clinicians to collectively address complex biological questions and accelerate the development of novel therapeutics.
  3. Support Technological Developments: Funding agencies should prioritize research and development of cryo-EM technologies, including improved detectors, sample preparation methods, and image processing algorithms. These advancements are crucial for pushing the boundaries of cryo-EM and expanding its applications.
  4. Enhance Data Sharing and Standards: Establish standardized protocols for data sharing, deposition, and validation to promote transparency, reproducibility, and collaboration within the cryo-EM community.

In conclusion, the recent cryo-EM structures of the PP2A:B55 holoenzyme with its inhibitors ARPP19 and FAM122A represent a significant milestone in structural biology. The study highlights the potential future trends in cryo-EM research, including technological advancements, integration with other techniques, and applications in drug discovery. By incorporating these insights into their strategies, the industry can harness the full potential of cryo-EM and contribute to addressing key biological questions and advancing therapeutic development.


  1. “Cryo-electron microscopy structures of the PP2A:B55 holoenzyme bound to its inhibitors ARPP19 and FAM122A show distinct binding modes of the two inhibitors.” Nature. Published online: 20 December 2023. DOI: 10.1038/s41586-023-06870-3