Unravelling biological macromolecules with cryo-electron microscopy

Nature. 2016 Sep 15;537(7620):339-46. doi: 10.1038/nature19948.


Knowledge of the three-dimensional structures of proteins and other biological macromolecules often aids understanding of how they perform complicated tasks in the cell. Because many such tasks involve the cleavage or formation of chemical bonds, structural characterization at the atomic level is most useful. Developments in the electron microscopy of frozen hydrated samples (cryo-electron microscopy) are providing unprecedented opportunities for the structural characterization of biological macromolecules. This is resulting in a wave of information about processes in the cell that were impossible to characterize with existing techniques in structural biology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cryoelectron Microscopy* / trends
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Proteins / ultrastructure
  • Models, Molecular
  • Multiprotein Complexes / chemistry*
  • Multiprotein Complexes / ultrastructure*


  • Membrane Proteins
  • Multiprotein Complexes