Structural Biology

Edge cases cause trouble

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  15 Jun 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6394, pp. 1199-1200
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6394.1199-g

Single-particle cryo–electron microscopy detects macromolecules trapped in a thin layer of vitreous ice. High-resolution, accurate reconstructions benefit from randomly arranged and well-dispersed particles, but biological samples do not always cooperate. Noble et al. used cryo–electron tomography to investigate particle distributions in cryo–electron microscopy samples. Troublingly, most macromolecules localized to the air-water interface, a phenomenon associated with denaturation of proteins and that may result in preferred orientations and uneven distribution of particles. Assessment of samples with cryo–electron tomography before further data collection would allow for tailored optimization of sample conditions, which should lead to higher-resolution structures and enable early detection of artifacts.

eLife 10.7554/eLife.34257 (2018).

Navigate This Article