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J Struct Biol. 2006 Dec;156(3):524-36. Epub 2006 Aug 15.

Electron energy filtering significantly improves amplitude contrast of frozen-hydrated protein at 300kV.

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The W.M. Keck Advanced Microscopy Laboratory, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, 1700, 4th Street, San Francisco, CA 94158-2532, USA.


The amplitude contrast of frozen-hydrated biological samples was measured using the bacterial flagellar filament embedded in vitreous ice at an accelerating voltage of 300kV. From the mean radial amplitude spectra of overfocused images, amplitude contrast was estimated to be 6.9+/-1.9% and 2.7+/-1.0% of the whole contrast at the low spatial frequency range with and without energy filtering, respectively, and that of the carbon film to be 9.5+/-2.0% and 5.8+/-1.8%. Energy filtering effectively doubled the signal-to-noise ratio in the images of frozen-hydrated filaments, and substantially improved intensity data statistics of layer lines up to at least approximately 25A resolution in their Fourier transforms. It also markedly improved inter-particle fitting phase residuals of averaged data at resolutions up to approximately 15A. Using the energy filtered data recorded on a new high-performance, lens-coupled CCD camera the three-dimensional map of the flagellar filament was calculated at 8A by applying the amplitude contrast of 6.9%. The map and its mean radial density distribution validated the obtained value of the amplitude contrast.

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