Visualization of biological macromolecules at near-atomic resolution: cryo-electron microscopy comes of age

Research paper by Mitra, A.K.

Indexed on: 29 Dec '18Published on: 01 Jan '19Published in: Acta Crystallographica Section F


Structural biology is going through a revolution as a result of transformational advances in the field of cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) driven by the development of direct electron detectors and ultrastable electron microscopes. High-resolution cryo-EM images of isolated biomolecules (single particles) suspended in a thin layer of vitrified buffer are subjected to powerful image-processing algorithms, enabling near-atomic resolution structures to be determined in unprecedented numbers. Prior to these advances, electron crystallography of two-dimensional crystals and helical assemblies of proteins had established the feasibility of atomic resolution structure determination using cryo-EM. Atomic resolution single-particle analysis, without the need for crystals, now promises to resolve problems in structural biology that were intractable just a few years ago.