Wisedchaisri, G. & Gonen, T. Fragment-based phase extension for three-dimensional structure determination of membrane proteins by electron crystallography. Structure 19, 976–987 (2011)
In electron crystallography, membrane protein structure is determined from two-dimensional crystals where the protein is embedded in a membrane. Once large and well-ordered 2D crystals are grown, one of the bottlenecks in electron crystallography is the collection of image data to directly provide experimental phases to high resolution. Here, we describe an approach to bypass this bottleneck, eliminating the need for high-resolution imaging. We use the strengths of electron crystallography in rapidly obtaining accurate experimental phase information from low-resolution images and accurate high-resolution amplitude information from electron diffraction. The low-resolution experimental phases were used for the placement of α helix fragments and extended to high resolution using phases from the fragments. Phases were further improved by density modifications followed by fragment expansion and structure refinement against the high-resolution diffraction data. Using this approach, structures of three membrane proteins were determined rapidly and accurately to atomic resolution without high-resolution image data.