New tools for automated cryo-EM single-particle analysis in RELION-4.0

Biochem J. 2021 Nov 16;BCJ20210708. doi: 10.1042/BCJ20210708. Online ahead of print.


We describe new tools for the processing of electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) images in the fourth major release of the RELION software. In particular, we introduce VDAM, a Variable-metric gradient Descent algorithm with Adaptive Moments estimation, for image refinement; a convolutional neural network for unsupervised selection of 2D classes; and a flexible framework for the design and execution of multiple jobs in pre-defined workflows. In addition, we present a stand-alone utility called MDCatch that links the execution of jobs within this framework with metadata gathering during microscope data acquisition. The new tools are aimed at providing fast and robust procedures for unsupervised cryo-EM structure determination, with potential applications for on-the-fly processing and the development of flexible, high-throughput structure determination pipelines. We illustrate their potential on twelve publicly available cryo-EM data sets.

Keywords: computational biochemistry; cryo-electron microscopy; imaging techniques; structural biology.