S. Jonic. Cryo-electron Microscopy Analysis of Structurally Heterogeneous Macromolecular Complexes. Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal (2016)
Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) has for a long time been a technique of choice for determining structure of large and flexible macromolecular complexes that were difficult to study by other experimental techniques such as X-ray crystallography or nuclear magnetic resonance. However, a fast development of instruments and software for cryo-EM in the last decade has allowed that a large range of complexes can be studied by cryo-EM, and that their structures can be obtained at near-atomic resolution, including the structures of small complexes (e.g., membrane proteins) whose size was earlier an obstacle to cryo-EM. Image analysis to identify multiple coexisting structures in the same specimen (multiconformation reconstruction) is now routinely done both to solve structures at near-atomic resolution and to study conformational dynamics. Methods for multiconformation reconstruction and latest examples of their applications are the focus of this review.