Bharat, T. A. M.; Russo, C. J.; Löwe, J.; Passmore, L. A. & Scheres, S. H. W. Advances in Single-Particle Electron Cryomicroscopy Structure Determination applied to Sub-tomogram Averaging. Structure, 2015, 23, 1743-1753
Recent innovations in specimen preparation, data collection, and image processing have led to improved structure determination using single-particle electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM). Here we explore some of these advances to improve structures determined using electron cryotomography (cryo-ET) and sub-tomogram averaging. We implement a new three-dimensional model for the contrast transfer function, and use this in a regularized likelihood optimization algorithm as implemented in the RELION program. Using direct electron detector data, we apply both single-particle analysis and sub-tomogram averaging to analyze radiation-induced movements of the specimen. As in single-particle cryo-EM, we find that significant sample movements occur during tomographic data acquisition, and that these movements are substantially reduced through the use of ultrastable gold substrates. We obtain a sub-nanometer resolution structure of the hepatitis B capsid, and show that reducing radiation-induced specimen movement may be central to attempts at further improving tomogram quality and resolution.