CryoEM reconstruction approaches to resolve asymmetric features

Adv Virus Res. 2019;105:73-91. doi: 10.1016/bs.aivir.2019.07.007.


Although icosahedral viruses have highly symmetrical capsid features, asymmetric structural elements are also present since the genome and minor structural proteins are usually incorporated without adhering to icosahedral symmetry. Besides this inherent asymmetry, interactions with the host during the virus life cycle are also asymmetric. However, until recently it was impossible to resolve high resolution asymmetric features during single-particle cryoEM image processing. This review summarizes the current approaches that can be used to visualize asymmetric structural features. We have included examples of advanced structural strategies developed to reveal unique features and asymmetry in icosahedral viruses.

Keywords: Asymmetry; Classification; Expansion; Focused; Refinement; Relaxation; Subparticle; Symmetry.

MeSH terms

  • Cryoelectron Microscopy / methods*
  • DNA Viruses / ultrastructure*
  • RNA Viruses / ultrastructure*
  • Virion / ultrastructure*