van Heel M, Schatz M (2005) Fourier shell correlation threshold criteria. J Struct Biol 151:250–262
The resolution value claimed for an electron microscopical three-dimensional reconstruction indicates the overall quality of the experiment. The Fourier shell correlation (FSC) criterion has now become the standard quality measure. However, what has continued to be controversial is the issue of the FSC threshold level at which one defines the reproducible resolution. Here, we discuss the theoretical behaviour of the FSC in conjunction with the various factors which influence it: the number of "voxels" in a given Fourier shell, the symmetry of the structure, and the size of the structure within the reconstruction volume. Both the theoretical considerations and our model experiments show that fixed-valued FSC threshold (like "0.5") may never be used in a reproducible criterion. Fixed threshold values are-as we show here-simply the result of incorrect assumptions in the basic statistics. Two families of FSC threshold curves are discussed: the sigma-factor curves and the new family of bit-based information threshold curves. Whereas sigma-factor curves indicate the resolution level at which one has collected information significantly above the noise level, the information curves indicate the resolution level at which enough information has been collected for interpretation.
Fourier shell correlation