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Methods Enzymol. 2010;483:31-46. doi: 10.1016/S0076-6879(10)83002-2.

Methods for segmentation and interpretation of electron tomographic reconstructions.

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Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, La Jolla, California, USA.


Electron tomography has become a powerful tool for revealing the molecular architecture of biological cells and tissues. In principle, electron tomography can provide high-resolution mapping of entire proteomes. The achievable resolution (3-8 nm) is capable of bridging the gap between live-cell imaging and atomic resolution structures. However, the relevant information is not readily accessible from the data and needs to be identified, extracted, and processed before it can be used. Because electron tomography imaging and image acquisition technologies have enjoyed major advances in the last few years and continue to increase data throughput, the need for approaches that allow automatic and objective interpretation of electron tomograms becomes more and more urgent. This chapter provides an overview of the state of the art in this field and attempts to identify the major bottlenecks that prevent approaches for interpreting electron tomography data to develop their full potential.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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