Jonic, S. Computational methods for analyzing conformational variability of macromolecular complexes from cryo-electron microscopy images. Current Opinion in Structural Biology, 2017, 43, 114–121
Thanks to latest technical advances in cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), structures of macromolecular complexes (viruses, ribosomes, etc.) are now often obtained at near-atomic resolution. Also, studies of conformational changes of complexes, in connection with their function, are gaining ground. Conformational variability analysis is usually done by classifying images in a number of discrete classes supposedly representing all conformational states present in the specimen. However, discrete classes cannot be meaningfully defined when the conformational change is continuous (the specimen contains a continuum of states instead of a few discrete states). For such cases, first image analysis methods that explicitly consider continuous conformational changes were recently developed. The latest developments in cryo-EM image analysis methods for conformational variability analysis are the focus of this review.
Structure; dynamics; macromolecular complexes; cryo-electron microscopy; conformational changes; single-particle analysis