Burley, Stephen K. / Berman, Helen M. / Chiu, Wah / Dai, Wei / Flatt, Justin W. / Hudson, Brian P. / Kaelber, Jason T. / Khare, Sagar D. / Kulczyk, Arkadiusz W. / Lawson, Catherine L. / others. Electron microscopy holdings of the Protein Data Bank: the impact of the resolution revolution, new validation tools, and implications for the future. 2022. Biophysical Reviews, Vol. 14, No. 6, p. 1281-1301
As a discipline, structural biology has been transformed by the three-dimensional electron microscopy (3DEM) “Resolution Revolution” made possible by convergence of robust cryo-preservation of vitrified biological materials, sample handling systems, and measurement stages operating a liquid nitrogen temperature, improvements in electron optics that preserve phase information at the atomic level, direct electron detectors (DEDs), high-speed computing with graphics processing units, and rapid advances in data acquisition and processing software. 3DEM structure information (atomic coordinates and related metadata) are archived in the open-access Protein Data Bank (PDB), which currently holds more than 11,000 3DEM structures of proteins and nucleic acids, and their complexes with one another and small-molecule ligands ( 6% of the archive). Underlying experimental data (3DEM density maps and related metadata) are stored in the Electron Microscopy Data Bank (EMDB), which currently holds more than 21,000 3DEM density maps. After describing the history of the PDB and the Worldwide Protein Data Bank (wwPDB) partnership, which jointly manages both the PDB and EMDB archives, this review examines the origins of the resolution revolution and analyzes its impact on structural biology viewed through the lens of PDB holdings. Six areas of focus exemplifying the impact of 3DEM across the biosciences are discussed in detail (icosahedral viruses, ribosomes, integral membrane proteins, SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins, cryogenic electron tomography, and integrative structure determination combining 3DEM with complementary biophysical measurement techniques), followed by a review of 3DEM structure validation by the wwPDB that underscores the importance of community engagement.