Resolving macromolecular structures from electron cryo-tomography data using subtomogram averaging in RELION.
ABSTRACT: Electron cryo-tomography (cryo-ET) is a technique that is used to produce 3D pictures (tomograms) of complex objects such as asymmetric viruses, cellular organelles or whole cells from a series of tilted electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) images. Averaging of macromolecular complexes found within tomograms is known as subtomogram averaging, and this technique allows structure determination of macromolecular complexes in situ. Subtomogram averaging is also gaining in popularity for the calculation of initial models for single-particle analysis. We describe herein a protocol for subtomogram averaging from cryo-ET data using the RELION software (http://www2.mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk/relion). RELION was originally developed for cryo-EM single-particle analysis, and the subtomogram averaging approach presented in this protocol has been implemented in the existing workflow for single-particle analysis so that users may conveniently tap into existing capabilities of the RELION software. We describe how to calculate 3D models for the contrast transfer function (CTF) that describe the transfer of information in the imaging process, and we illustrate the results of classification and subtomogram averaging refinement for cryo-ET data of purified hepatitis B capsid particles and Saccharomyces cerevisiae 80S ribosomes. Using the steps described in this protocol, along with the troubleshooting and optimization guidelines, high-resolution maps can be obtained in which secondary structure elements are resolved subtomogram.
Project description:The resolution of subtomogram averages calculated from cryo-electron tomograms (cryo-ET) of crowded cellular environments is often limited owing to signal loss in, and misalignment of, the subtomograms. By contrast, single-particle cryo-electron microscopy (SP-cryo-EM) routinely reaches near-atomic resolution of isolated complexes. We report a method called 'tomography-guided 3D reconstruction of subcellular structures' (TYGRESS) that is a hybrid of cryo-ET and SP-cryo-EM, and is able to achieve close-to-nanometer resolution of complexes inside crowded cellular environments. TYGRESS combines the advantages of SP-cryo-EM (images with good signal-to-noise ratio and contrast, as well as minimal radiation damage) and subtomogram averaging (three-dimensional alignment of macromolecules in a complex sample). Using TYGRESS, we determined the structure of the intact ciliary axoneme with up to resolution of 12?Å. These results reveal many structural details that were not visible by cryo-ET alone. TYGRESS is generally applicable to cellular complexes that are amenable to subtomogram averaging.
Project description:Cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) allows cellular ultrastructures and macromolecular complexes to be imaged in three-dimensions in their native environments. Cryo-electron tomograms are reconstructed from projection images taken at defined tilt-angles. In order to recover high-resolution information from cryo-electron tomograms, it is necessary to measure and correct for the contrast transfer function (CTF) of the microscope. Most commonly, this is performed using protocols that approximate the sample as a two-dimensional (2D) plane. This approximation accounts for differences in defocus and therefore CTF across the tilted sample. It does not account for differences in defocus of objects at different heights within the sample; instead, a 3D approach is required. Currently available approaches for 3D-CTF correction are computationally expensive and have not been widely implemented. Here we simulate the benefits of 3D-CTF correction for high-resolution subtomogram averaging, and present a user-friendly, computationally-efficient 3D-CTF correction tool, NovaCTF, that is compatible with standard tomogram reconstruction workflows in IMOD. We validate the approach on synthetic data and test it using subtomogram averaging of real data. Consistent with our simulations, we find that 3D-CTF correction allows high-resolution structures to be obtained with much smaller subtomogram averaging datasets than are required using 2D-CTF. We also show that using equivalent dataset sizes, 3D-CTF correction can be used to obtain higher-resolution structures. We present a 3.4Å resolution structure determined by subtomogram averaging.
Project description:Cryo-Electron Tomography (cryo-ET) has become an essential technique in revealing cellular and macromolecular assembly structures in their native states. However, due to radiation damage and the limited tilt range, cryo-ET suffers from low contrast and missing wedge artifacts, which limits the tomograms to low resolution and hinders further biological interpretation. In this study, we applied the Model-Based Iterative Reconstruction (MBIR) method to obtain tomographic 3D reconstructions of experimental cryo-ET datasets and demonstrated the advantages of MBIR in contrast improvement, missing wedge artifacts reduction, missing information restoration, and subtomogram averaging compared with other reconstruction approaches. Considering the outstanding reconstruction quality, MBIR has a great potential in the determination of high resolution biological structures with cryo-ET.
Project description:Recent innovations in specimen preparation, data collection, and image processing have led to improved structure determination using single-particle electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM). Here we explore some of these advances to improve structures determined using electron cryotomography (cryo-ET) and sub-tomogram averaging. We implement a new three-dimensional model for the contrast transfer function, and use this in a regularized likelihood optimization algorithm as implemented in the RELION program. Using direct electron detector data, we apply both single-particle analysis and sub-tomogram averaging to analyze radiation-induced movements of the specimen. As in single-particle cryo-EM, we find that significant sample movements occur during tomographic data acquisition, and that these movements are substantially reduced through the use of ultrastable gold substrates. We obtain a sub-nanometer resolution structure of the hepatitis B capsid, and show that reducing radiation-induced specimen movement may be central to attempts at further improving tomogram quality and resolution.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Resolution estimation is the main evaluation criteria for the reconstruction of macromolecular 3D structure in the field of cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM). At present, there are many methods to evaluate the 3D resolution for reconstructed macromolecular structures from Single Particle Analysis (SPA) in cryo-EM and subtomogram averaging (SA) in electron cryotomography (cryo-ET). As global methods, they measure the resolution of the structure as a whole, but they are inaccurate in detecting subtle local changes of reconstruction. In order to detect the subtle changes of reconstruction of SPA and SA, a few local resolution methods are proposed. The mainstream local resolution evaluation methods are based on local Fourier shell correlation (FSC), which is computationally intensive. However, the existing resolution evaluation methods are based on multi-threading implementation on a single computer with very poor scalability. RESULTS:This paper proposes a new fine-grained 3D array partition method by key-value format in Spark. Our method first converts 3D images to key-value data (K-V). Then the K-V data is used for 3D array partitioning and data exchange in parallel. So Spark-based distributed parallel computing framework can solve the above scalability problem. In this distributed computing framework, all 3D local FSC tasks are simultaneously calculated across multiple nodes in a computer cluster. Through the calculation of experimental data, 3D local resolution evaluation algorithm based on Spark fine-grained 3D array partition has a magnitude change in computing speed compared with the mainstream FSC algorithm under the condition that the accuracy remains unchanged, and has better fault tolerance and scalability. CONCLUSIONS:In this paper, we proposed a K-V format based fine-grained 3D array partition method in Spark to parallel calculating 3D FSC for getting a 3D local resolution density map. 3D local resolution density map evaluates the three-dimensional density maps reconstructed from single particle analysis and subtomogram averaging. Our proposed method can significantly increase the speed of the 3D local resolution evaluation, which is important for the efficient detection of subtle variations among reconstructed macromolecular structures.
Project description:Cryo-electron tomography (Cryo-ET) is a powerful three-dimensional (3-D) imaging technique for visualizing macromolecular complexes in their native context at a molecular level. The technique involves initially preserving the sample in its native state by rapidly freezing the specimen in vitreous ice, then collecting a series of micrographs from different angles at high magnification, and finally computationally reconstructing a 3-D density map. The frozen-hydrated specimen is extremely sensitive to the electron beam and so micrographs are collected at very low electron doses to limit the radiation damage. As a result, the raw cryo-tomogram has a very low signal to noise ratio characterized by an intrinsically noisy image. To better visualize subjects of interest, conventional imaging analysis and sub-tomogram averaging in which sub-tomograms of the subject are extracted from the initial tomogram and aligned and averaged are utilized to improve both contrast and resolution. Large datasets of tilt-series are essential to understanding and resolving the complexes at different states, conditions, or mutations as well as obtaining a large enough collection of sub-tomograms for averaging and classification. Collecting and processing this data can be a major obstacle preventing further analysis. Here we describe a high-throughput cryo-ET protocol based on a computer-controlled 300kV cryo-electron microscope, a direct detection device (DDD) camera and a highly effective, semi-automated image-processing pipeline software wrapper library tomoauto developed in-house. This protocol has been effectively utilized to visualize the intact type III secretion system (T3SS) in Shigella flexneri minicells. It can be applicable to any project suitable for cryo-ET.
Project description:Macromolecular complexes are intrinsically flexible and often challenging to purify for structure determination by single-particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). Such complexes can be studied by cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) combined with subtomogram alignment and classification, which in exceptional cases achieves subnanometer resolution, yielding insight into structure-function relationships. However, it remains challenging to apply this approach to specimens that exhibit conformational or compositional heterogeneity or are present in low abundance. To address this, we developed emClarity ( https://github.com/bHimes/emClarity/wiki ), a GPU-accelerated image-processing package featuring an iterative tomographic tilt-series refinement algorithm that uses subtomograms as fiducial markers and a 3D-sampling-function-compensated, multi-scale principal component analysis classification method. We demonstrate that our approach offers substantial improvement in the resolution of maps and in the separation of different functional states of macromolecular complexes compared with current state-of-the-art software.
Project description:Cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) captures the 3D electron density distribution of macromolecular complexes in close to native state. With the rapid advance of cryo-ET acquisition technologies, it is possible to generate large numbers (>100,000) of subtomograms, each containing a macromolecular complex. Often, these subtomograms represent a heterogeneous sample due to variations in the structure and composition of a complex in situ form or because particles are a mixture of different complexes. In this case subtomograms must be classified. However, classification of large numbers of subtomograms is a time-intensive task and often a limiting bottleneck. This paper introduces an open source software platform, TomoMiner, for large-scale subtomogram classification, template matching, subtomogram averaging, and alignment. Its scalable and robust parallel processing allows efficient classification of tens to hundreds of thousands of subtomograms. In addition, TomoMiner provides a pre-configured TomoMinerCloud computing service permitting users without sufficient computing resources instant access to TomoMiners high-performance features.
Project description:RELION, for REgularized LIkelihood OptimizatioN, is an open-source computer program for the refinement of macromolecular structures by single-particle analysis of electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) data. Whereas alternative approaches often rely on user expertise for the tuning of parameters, RELION uses a Bayesian approach to infer parameters of a statistical model from the data. This paper describes developments that reduce the computational costs of the underlying maximum a posteriori (MAP) algorithm, as well as statistical considerations that yield new insights into the accuracy with which the relative orientations of individual particles may be determined. A so-called gold-standard Fourier shell correlation (FSC) procedure to prevent overfitting is also described. The resulting implementation yields high-quality reconstructions and reliable resolution estimates with minimal user intervention and at acceptable computational costs.
Project description:Single particle cryo-electron tomography (cryoSPT) extracts features from cryo-electron tomograms, followed by 3D classification, alignment and averaging to generate improved 3D density maps of such features. Robust methods to correct for the contrast transfer function (CTF) of the electron microscope are necessary for cryoSPT to reach its resolution potential. Many factors can make CTF correction for cryoSPT challenging, such as lack of eucentricity of the specimen stage, inherent low dose per image, specimen charging, beam-induced specimen motions, and defocus gradients resulting both from specimen tilting and from unpredictable ice thickness variations. Current CTF correction methods for cryoET make at least one of the following assumptions: that the defocus at the center of the image is the same across the images of a tiltseries, that the particles all lie at the same Z-height in the embedding ice, and/or that the specimen, the cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) grid and/or the carbon support are flat. These experimental conditions are not always met. We have developed a CTF correction algorithm for cryoSPT without making any of the aforementioned assumptions. We also introduce speed and accuracy improvements and a higher degree of automation to the subtomogram averaging algorithms available in EMAN2. Using motion-corrected images of isolated virus particles as a benchmark specimen, recorded with a DE20 direct detection camera, we show that our CTF correction and subtomogram alignment routines can yield subtomogram averages close to 4/5 Nyquist frequency of the detector under our experimental conditions.