Cryo-electron tomography: 3-dimensional imaging of soft matter


Nudelman, F., With, de, G. & Sommerdijk, N.A.J.M. (2011). Cryo-electron tomography: 3-dimensional imaging of soft matter. Soft Matter, 7(1), 17-24. In Scopus Cited 34 times.

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The advent of cryogenic-transmission electron microscopy (cryoTEM) signified a breakthrough in the in situ imaging of hydrated specimens of biological and synthetic origin allowing their study in a state of preservation that is close to native. An inherent limitation to cryoTEM, however, is that images are 2-dimensional projections of the 3-dimensional objects, resulting in the overlapping of multiple features that cannot be discerned. Cryo-electron tomography (cryoET) is essential to overcome this limitation. In this technique images of the specimen are acquired at different tilt angles and then reconstructed into the 3-dimensional object, revealing detailed information on the structure, morphology or 3-dimensional spatial organization of (bio)macromolecules and (macro)molecular assemblies. This information then can be coupled to processes happening in the 3-dimensional space, making cryoET an invaluable tool to bridge between the structural organization in space and the function or activity of macromolecular complexes at the nanometre scale.