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J Struct Biol. 2005 Apr;150(1):109-21.

Cutting artefacts and cutting process in vitreous sections for cryo-electron microscopy.

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  • 1Laboratoire d'Analyse Ultrastructurale, Bâtiment de Biologie, UniversitĂ© de Lausanne, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland. Ashraf.Al-Amoudi@lau.unil.ch

Abstract

Cryo-electron microscopy of vitreous sections (CEMOVIS) has recently been shown to provide images of biological specimens with unprecedented quality and resolution. Cutting the sections remains however the major difficulty. Here, we examine the parameters influencing the quality of the sections and analyse the resulting artefacts. They are in particular: knife marks, compression, crevasses, and chatter. We propose a model taking into account the interplay between viscous flow and fracture. We confirm that crevasses are formed on only one side of the section, and define conditions by which they can be avoided. Chatter is an effect of irregular compression due to friction of the section of the knife edge and conditions to prevent this are also explored. In absence of crevasses and chatter, the bulk of the section is compressed approximately homogeneously. Within this approximation, it is possible to correct for compression by a simple linear transformation for the bulk of the section. A research program is proposed to test and refine our understanding of the sectioning process.

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