New views of cells in 3D: an introduction to electron tomography

Trends Cell Biol. 2005 Jan;15(1):43-51. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2004.11.009.


The most important goal of structural cell biology is to elucidate the mechanisms of the processes of life. The structure of a membrane system or fibrous array, the changes in such structures over time or the localizations of enzymes relative to organelle boundaries can often illuminate associated cellular functions. To be of maximal value, structural studies should provide isotropic, 3D information about well-preserved samples at the highest possible resolution. Electron tomography can provide such information about many kinds of cells and organelles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cells / ultrastructure
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Cytological Techniques*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Specimen Handling
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*