MRC2014: Extensions to the MRC format header for electron cryo-microscopy and tomography

J Struct Biol. 2015 Nov;192(2):146-50. doi: 10.1016/j.jsb.2015.04.002. Epub 2015 Apr 13.


The MRC binary file format is widely used in the three-dimensional electron microscopy field for storing image and volume data. Files contain a header which describes the kind of data held, together with other important metadata. In response to advances in electron microscopy techniques, a number of variants to the file format have emerged which contain useful additional data, but which limit interoperability between different software packages. Following extensive discussions, the authors, who represent leading software packages in the field, propose a set of extensions to the MRC format standard designed to accommodate these variants, while restoring interoperability. The MRC format is equivalent to the map format used in the CCP4 suite for macromolecular crystallography, and the proposal also maintains interoperability with crystallography software. This Technical Note describes the proposed extensions, and serves as a reference for the standard.

Keywords: Electron microscopy; File format; Image data; Macromolecular crystallography.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cryoelectron Microscopy / methods*
  • Electron Microscope Tomography / methods*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods
  • Information Storage and Retrieval / methods*
  • Software