Forum 03/11/2004

“Bits and Bites in Electron Tomography”

Stephan Nickell – Abteilung Molekulare Strukturbiologie, Max Planck Institut fur Biochemie

lectron tomography is the only imaging technique enabling the study of pleiomorphic structures, such as organelles or whole cells, with a resolution of a few nanometers, as is required for observing macromolecules in situ.  Without harmful biochemical treatments used for isolation and purification the proteins are cryofixed and therefore preserved in a quasi-native state in their cellular context.  The electron tomographic data acquisition scheme is based on transmission projections collected at different views of the specimen.  In a computational reconstruction process a three-dimensional image of the object is obtained and can be further analysed.
To address the special needs in electron tomography, we developed a software toolbox based on Matlab (Mathworks Inc.) for data acquisition, alignment, reconstruction and visualization. First results using this new software at a helium cooled electron microscope (FEI) will be presented.

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