Huber, S. T.; Kuhm, T. & Sachse, C. Automated tracing of helical assemblies from electron cryo-micrographs. Journal of structural biology, 2018, 202, 1-12
Structure determination of helical specimens commonly requires datasets from thousands of micrographs often obtained by automated cryo-EM data acquisition. Interactive tracing of helical assemblies from such a number of micrographs is labor-intense and time-consuming. Here, we introduce an automated tracing tool MicHelixTrace that precisely locates helix traces from micrographs of rigid as well as very flexible helical assemblies with small numbers of false positives. The computer program is fast and has low computational requirements. In addition to helix coordinates required for a subsequent helical reconstruction work-flow, we determine the persistence length of the polymer ensemble. This information provides a useful measure to characterize mechanical properties of helical assemblies and to evaluate the potential for high-resolution structure determination.