Hsieh CE, Marko M, Frank J, Mannella CA (2002) Electron tomographic analysis of frozen-hydrated tissue sections. J Struct Biol 138:63–73
Electron tomography of frozen-hydrated tissue sections enables analysis of the 3-D structure of cell organelles in situ and in a near-native state. In this study, 160-200-nm-thick sections were cut from high-pressure frozen rat liver, and improved methods were used for handling and mounting the sections. Automated data collection facilitated tilt-series recording at low electron dose (approximately 4000 e(-)/nm(2) at 400 keV). Higher doses (up to 10,000 e(-)/nm(2)) were found to increase contrast and smooth out surface defects, but caused section distortion and movement, with likely loss of high-resolution information. Tomographic reconstruction showed that knife marks were 10-40 nm deep and located on the "knife face" of the section, while crevices were 20-50 nm deep and found on the "block face." The interior of the section was normally free of defects, except for compression, and contained useful structural information. For example, the topology of mitochondrial membranes in tissue was found to be very similar to that in frozen-hydrated whole mounts of isolated mitochondria. In rare cases, a 15-nm banding pattern perpendicular to the cutting direction was observed in the interior of the section, most evident in the uniformly dense, protein-rich material of the mitochondrial matrix.
Cryofixation, sample preparation