Structural analysis of supramolecular assemblies by cryo-electron tomography

Structure. 2013 Sep 3;21(9):1522-30. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2013.08.003.


Structural analysis of macromolecular assemblies in their physiological environment is a challenging task that is instrumental in answering fundamental questions in cellular and molecular structural biology. The continuous development of computational and analytical tools for cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) enables the study of these assemblies at a resolution of a few nanometers. Through the implementation of thinning procedures, cryo-ET can now be applied to the reconstruction of macromolecular structures located inside thick regions of vitrified cells and tissues, thus becoming a central tool for structural determinations in various biological disciplines. Here, we focus on the successful in situ applications of cryo-ET to reveal structures of macromolecular complexes within eukaryotic cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Electron Microscope Tomography
  • Eukaryotic Cells / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Macromolecular Substances / chemistry
  • Macromolecular Substances / ultrastructure*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Conformation


  • Macromolecular Substances