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Ultramicroscopy. 2007 Jan;107(1):25-39. Epub 2006 May 22.

A procedure to analyze surface profiles of the protein molecules visualized by quick-freeze deep-etch replica electron microscopy.

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Division of Biomolecular Imaging, Institute of Medical Science, The University of Tokyo, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8639, Japan.


Quick-freeze deep-etch replica electron microscopy gives high contrast snapshots of individual protein molecules under physiological conditions in vitro or in situ. The images show delicate internal pattern, possibly reflecting the rotary-shadowed surface profile of the molecule. As a step to build the new system for the "Structural analysis of single molecules", we propose a procedure to quantitatively characterize the structural property of individual molecules; e.g. conformational type and precise view-angle of the molecules, if the crystallographic structure of the target molecule is available. This paper presents a framework to determine the observed face of the protein molecule by analyzing the surface profile of individual molecules visualized in freeze-replica specimens. A comprehensive set of rotary-shadowed views of the protein molecule was artificially generated from the available atomic coordinates using light-rendering software. Exploiting new mathematical morphology-based image filter, characteristic features were extracted from each image and stored as template. Similar features were extracted from the true replica image and the most likely projection angle and the conformation of the observed particle were determined by quantitative comparison with a set of archived images. The performance and the robustness of the procedure were examined with myosin head structure in defined configuration for actual application.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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