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Adv Protein Chem Struct Biol. 2011;82:1-35. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-386507-6.00001-4.

Atomic resolution cryo electron microscopy of macromolecular complexes.

Author information

  • Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Los Angeles, California, USA.

Abstract

Single-particle cryo electron microscopy (cryoEM) is a technique for determining three-dimensional (3D) structures from projection images of molecular complexes preserved in their "native," noncrystalline state. Recently, atomic or near-atomic resolution structures of several viruses and protein assemblies have been determined by single-particle cryoEM, allowing ab initio atomic model building by following the amino acid side chains or nucleic acid bases identifiable in their cryoEM density maps. In particular, these cryoEM structures have revealed extended arms contributing to molecular interactions that are otherwise not resolved by the conventional structural method of X-ray crystallography at similar resolutions. High-resolution cryoEM requires careful consideration of a number of factors, including proper sample preparation to ensure structural homogeneity, optimal configuration of electron imaging conditions to record high-resolution cryoEM images, accurate determination of image parameters to correct image distortions, efficient refinement and computation to reconstruct a 3D density map, and finally appropriate choice of modeling tools to construct atomic models for functional interpretation. This progress illustrates the power of cryoEM and ushers it into the arsenal of structural biology, alongside conventional techniques of X-ray crystallography and NMR, as a major tool (and sometimes the preferred one) for the studies of molecular interactions in supramolecular assemblies or machines.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:
21501817
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3698602
Free PMC Article

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