Lucas, Bronwyn A. Visualizing everything, everywhere, all at once: Cryo-EM and the new field of structureomics. 2023. Current Opinion in Structural Biology, Vol. 81, p. 102620
Twenty years ago, the release of the first draft of the human genome sequence instigated a paradigm shift in genomics and molecular biology. Arguably, structural biology is entering an analogous era, with availability of an experimentally determined or predicted molecular model for almost every proteincoding gene from many genomes—producing a reference “structureome”. Structural predictions require experimental validation and not all proteins conform to a single structure, making any reference structureome necessarily incomplete. Despite these limitations, a reference structureome can be used to characterize cell state in more detail than by quantifying sequence or expression levels alone. Cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is a method that can generate atomic resolution views of molecules and cells frozen in place. In this perspective I consider how emerging cryo-EM methods are contributing to the new field of structureomics.