Single-Particle Cryo-EM at Crystallographic Resolution

Cell. 2015 Apr 23;161(3):450-457. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.03.049.


Until only a few years ago, single-particle electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) was usually not the first choice for many structural biologists due to its limited resolution in the range of nanometer to subnanometer. Now, this method rivals X-ray crystallography in terms of resolution and can be used to determine atomic structures of macromolecules that are either refractory to crystallization or difficult to crystallize in specific functional states. In this review, I discuss the recent breakthroughs in both hardware and software that transformed cryo-microscopy, enabling understanding of complex biomolecules and their functions at atomic level.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Crystallography, X-Ray / instrumentation*
  • Crystallography, X-Ray / methods*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Molecular Conformation*
  • Software