Liu, J., Li, H., Zhang, L. et al. Fully Mechanically Controlled Automated Electron Microscopic Tomography. Sci Rep 6, 29231 (2016).
A single-molecule three-dimensional (3D) structure is essential for understanding the thermal vibrations and dynamics as well as the conformational changes during the chemical reaction of macromolecules. Individual-particle electron tomography (IPET) is an approach for obtaining a snap-shot 3D structure of an individual macromolecule particle by aligning the tilt series of electron tomographic (ET) images of a targeted particle through a focused iterative 3D reconstruction method. The method can reduce the influence on the 3D reconstruction from large-scale image distortion and deformation. Due to the mechanical tilt limitation, 3D reconstruction often contains missing-wedge artifacts, presented as elongation and an anisotropic resolution. Here, we report a post-processing method to correct the missing-wedge artifact. This low-tilt tomographic reconstruction (LoTToR) method contains a model-free iteration process under a set of constraints in real and reciprocal spaces. A proof of concept is conducted by using the LoTToR on a phantom, i.e., a simulated 3D reconstruction from a low-tilt series of images, including that within a tilt range of ±15°. The method is validated by using both negative-staining (NS) and cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) experimental data. A significantly reduced missing-wedge artifact verifies the capability of LoTToR, suggesting a new tool to support the future study of macromolecular dynamics, fluctuation and chemical activity from the viewpoint of single-molecule 3D structure determination.
Tomography; Automated data collection; Transmission electron microscopy; Mechanical backlash; proportional-integral control algorithm