News / 7 December 2020

EMBL Australia Scientific Head Professor James Whisstock is leading the development of an integrated microscopy and proteomics resource that will enable Australian researchers to understand the precise molecular makeup of the intracellular environment.

Electron microscopy has advanced to the point where it is possible to determine the 3D structure of individual proteins in situ.

However, a fundamental limitation of this technique is that the identification of proteins in the region of interest is exceptionally challenging and relies on exhaustive comparative experiments.

Professor Whisstock said the aim of this project was to develop a new resource to organise and navigate multidimensional data and drive connectivity between molecular imaging and proteomic datasets.

“The Integrated Microscopy and Proteomics project will enable a new, publicly accessible, national-scale data asset to underpin the integration of molecular imaging with bio-analytics, driving discovery research across the whole of the life sciences,” he said.

“The resource will permit Australian researchers to attain one of the grand ambitions of biologists and understand the precise molecular makeup of the intracellular environment.”

Prof James Whisstock is leading the development of the new resource.

It will use artificial intelligence bioinformatics approaches to seamlessly integrate and interrogate high-resolution imaging data (derived from optical and electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography) with proteomic/genomic data and gene ontology/protein interaction network data.

Currently, this information is distributed across numerous disparate databases, precluding the ready interpretation and analysis of imaging data, such as 3D tomograms output by the latest generation optical and electron microscopes.

The online platform will host the final, released and annotated datasets and permit presentation of the data to the community.

The data will have immediate application in fields such as drug discovery, infectious diseases and molecular diagnostics.

The Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) is co-investing $400,000 in a project led by EMBL Australia and partnering with Microscopy Australia, under the ARDC's Cross-NCRIS initiative.

Under the initiative, ARDC invited NCRIS partners to co-invest in the establishment of cross-facility national data assets to support multi-domain science. 

EMBL Australia, Microscopy Australia, Bioplatforms Australia and the Multi-modal Australian Sciences Imaging and Visualisation Environment (MASSIVE) are also funding the million-dollar project.

 

Read more about the project on the ARDC website.