Evolving data standards for cryo-EM structures

Struct Dyn. 2020 Jan 24;7(1):014701. doi: 10.1063/1.5138589. eCollection 2020 Jan.


Electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) is increasingly being used to determine 3D structures of a broad spectrum of biological specimens from molecules to cells. Anticipating this progress in the early 2000s, an international collaboration of scientists with expertise in both cryo-EM and structure data archiving was established (EMDataResource, previously known as EMDataBank). The major goals of the collaboration have been twofold: to develop the necessary infrastructure for archiving cryo-EM-derived density maps and models, and to promote development of cryo-EM structure validation standards. We describe how cryo-EM data archiving and validation have been developed and jointly coordinated for the Electron Microscopy Data Bank and Protein Data Bank archives over the past two decades, as well as the impact of evolving technology on data standards. Just as for X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance, engaging the scientific community via workshops and challenging activities has played a central role in developing recommendations and requirements for the cryo-EM structure data archives.