High-throughput high-resolution cryo-electron crystallography

Scherer, Sebastian. High-throughput high-resolution cryo-electron crystallography. 2015, Doctoral Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Science.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/diss/DissB_11284

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High-resolution structures of membrane and soluble proteins can be obtained by cryo-electron crystallography, given highly-ordered cryo-preparations of perfectly flat 2D crystals are available. Studies of membrane proteins, which are embedded into a lipid membrane, mimicking the native cell membrane, are of particular biological interest. However there are multiple reasons why electron crystallography is far from being a mainstream protein structure determination technique. In this thesis we address three major difficulties of electron crystallography: (i) resolution loss due to not perfectly flat crystals, (ii) reliable high-throughput automatic image processing and (iii) correction of electron beam-induced motion of the sample.
The conventional electron crystallography image processing procedure assumes perfectly flat 2D crystals, which are almost impossible to obtain. Our new processing approach, described in Chapter 2, weakens this assumption tremendously. Traditional processing assigns the same tilt geometry to all proteins of one 2D crystal. Thus local tilt geometry variations, due to not perfectly flat crystals, are neglected. We developed an algorithm that optimizes the tilt geometry of each protein separately, while exploiting the correlation between neighboring proteins. The new method proves the feasibility of this approach, improves the achieved resolution and opens the doors to new studies, i.e. structural studies of membrane proteins embedded into lipid vesicles.
Recently a new generation of digital detectors tremendously changed the cryo-electron microscopy field. Beside a significantly increased signal-to-noise ratio these detectors record dose-fractionated movies of the sample under the electron beam. Previous cameras only recorded one image instead. This new exposure mode enables the computational correction for beam-induced sample movements. In Chapter 3 we describe a new “real-time” automation pipeline for electron crystallography using direct electron detectors. The novel pipeline automatically corrects for homogeneous sample drift on frame level and processes the acquired images automatically. Both, the time-to-solution and the quality of the obtained 3D reconstructions are significantly improved.
Heterogeneous beam-induced sample movements are the most severe resolution- limiting factor in modern cryo-electron crystallography. In Chapter 4 we present an algorithm, termed movie-mode unbending, which corrects for inhomogeneous beam- induced sample drift. In contrast to the previous homogeneous drift-correction, the novel algorithm can correct for locally varying beam-induced sample motion. This novel approach significantly increases the resolution of electron cryo-crystallographic studies recorded on the latest detectors.
Chapter 5 covers multiple successful applications of the methods introduced above. For instance the real-time drift-correction module of the developed automation pipeline was used for multiple near-atomic resolution single particle and helical image processing projects. The high-throughput crystal image processing was applied to different kinds of 2D crystals and enabled the qualitative assessment of different sample preparation methods. Additionally we describe the implementation of a high-throughput single particle automation pipeline, which will enable the generation of near-atomic resolution single particle cryo-electron microscopy density maps on a daily basis.
Advisors:Stahlberg, Henning
Committee Members:Roth, Volker
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Biozentrum > Former Organization Units Biozentrum > Structural Biology (Stahlberg)
UniBasel Contributors:Scherer, Sebastian and Stahlberg, Henning and Roth, Volker
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Doctoral Thesis
Thesis no:11284
Thesis status:Complete
Number of Pages:137 p.
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edoc DOI:
Last Modified:22 Jan 2018 15:52
Deposited On:29 Jun 2015 07:18

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