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Histochem Cell Biol. 2008 Aug;130(2):185-96. doi: 10.1007/s00418-008-0459-y. Epub 2008 Jun 20.

Cryo-electron tomography of cells: connecting structure and function.

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Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Am Klopferspitz 18, 82152, Martinsried, Germany.


Cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) allows the visualization of cellular structures under close-to-life conditions and at molecular resolution. While it is inherently a static approach, yielding structural information about supramolecular organization at a certain time point, it can nevertheless provide insights into function of the structures imaged, in particular, when supplemented by other approaches. Here, we review the use of experimental methods that supplement cryo-ET imaging of whole cells. These include genetic and pharmacological manipulations, as well as correlative light microscopy and cryo-ET. While these methods have mostly been used to detect and identify structures visualized in cryo-ET or to assist the search for a feature of interest, we expect that in the future they will play a more important role in the functional interpretation of cryo-tomograms.

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