Image processing techniques for high-resolution structure determination from badly ordered 2D crystals

J Struct Biol. 2018 Aug;203(2):120-134. doi: 10.1016/j.jsb.2018.03.013. Epub 2018 Apr 22.


2D electron crystallography can be used to study small membrane proteins in their native environment. Obtaining highly ordered 2D crystals is difficult and time-consuming. However, 2D crystals diffracting to only 10-12 Å can be prepared relatively conveniently in most cases. We have developed image-processing algorithms allowing to generate a high resolution 3D structure from cryo-electron crystallography images of badly ordered crystals. These include movie-mode unbending, refinement over sub-tiles of the images in order to locally refine the sample tilt geometry, implementation of different CTF correction schemes, and an iterative method to apply known constraints in the real and reciprocal space to approximate amplitudes and phases in the so-called missing cone regions. These algorithms applied to a dataset of the potassium channel MloK1 show significant resolution improvements to better than 5 Å.

Keywords: CTF correction; Direct electron detector; Dose-fractionation; Electron crystallography; Gatan K2 summit; Membrane proteins; Missing cone; Movie-mode processing; Projective constraint optimization; Shrinkwrap refinement; Tiled image processing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy / methods
  • Crystallography, X-Ray / methods*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry*
  • Membrane Proteins / ultrastructure*
  • Software


  • Membrane Proteins