Liu, Yun-Tao / Zhang, Heng / Wang, Hui / Tao, Chang-Lu / Bi, Guo-Qiang / Zhou, Z. Hong. Isotropic reconstruction for electron tomography with deep learning. 2022. Nature Communications, Vol. 13, No. 1, p. 6482
Cryogenic electron tomography (cryoET) allows visualization of cellular structures in situ. However, anisotropic resolution arising from the intrinsic “missing-wedge” problem has presented major challenges in visualization and interpretation of tomograms. Here, we have developed IsoNet, a deep learning-based software package that iteratively reconstructs the missingwedge information and increases signal-to-noise ratio, using the knowledge learned from raw tomograms. Without the need for sub-tomogram averaging, IsoNet generates tomograms with significantly reduced resolution anisotropy. Applications of IsoNet to three representative types of cryoET data demonstrate greatly improved structural interpretability: resolving lattice defects in immature HIV particles, establishing architecture of the paraflagellar rod in Eukaryotic flagella, and identifying heptagon-containing clathrin cages inside a neuronal synapse of cultured cells. Therefore, by overcoming two fundamental limitations of cryoET, IsoNet enables functional interpretation of cellular tomograms without sub-tomogram averaging. Its application to high-resolution cellular tomograms should also help identify differently oriented complexes of the same kind for sub-tomogram averaging.