Ramlaul, K.; Palmer, C. M.; Nakane, T., Aylett, C. H. S. Mitigating local over-fitting during single particle reconstruction with SIDESPLITTER. Journal of structural biology, 2020, 211, 107545
Single particle analysis has become a key structural biology technique. Experimental images are extremely noisy, and during iterative refinement it is possible to stably incorporate noise into the reconstruction. Such "over-fitting" can lead to misinterpretation of the structure and flawed biological results. Several strategies are routinely used to prevent over-fitting, the most common being independent refinement of two sides of a split dataset. In this study, we show that over-fitting remains an issue within regions of low local signal-to-noise, despite independent refinement of half datasets. We propose a modification of the refinement process through the application of a local signal-to-noise filter: SIDESPLITTER. We show that our approach can reduce over-fitting for both idealised and experimental data while maintaining independence between the two sides of a split refinement. SIDESPLITTER refinement leads to improved density, and can also lead to improvement of the final resolution in extreme cases where datasets are prone to severe over-fitting, such as small membrane proteins.