Forum 09/18/2003

“Informatics tools for Electron Tomography”

Maryann Martone – Dept of Neurosciences, UCSD

Electron tomography, specifically cryoelectron tomography, was recently named one of the “runner up breakthroughs of the year” by Science Magazine1, a tribute to its unique role in unraveling the macromolecular complexity of cells and tissues.  As cell-level electron tomography becomes more widely practiced, the tomographic community is working to increase both the speed and scope of tomographic reconstructions, e.g., by using computer controlled microscopes to automate data acquisition.  As these efforts proceed, however, it is also necessary to develop resources for managing the resulting mountain of information and making these valuable and labor-intensive reconstructions available to the greater scientific community.  At the National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research, we are developing several informatics-based approaches both to increase the throughput of large scale light and electron microscopic studies of cells and tissues and to house structural cell-level data in a shared data repository.  To enhance the efficiency of tomographic reconstruction, we have developed the Telescience Portal (www.ncmir.ucsd.edu /Telescience). The Telescience Portal provides access to an integrated suite of tomography tools, including easy access to remote microscopy, Grid-based reconstruction and visualization applications, and databases.  For managing and mining cell level microscopic information, we have created the Cell Centered Database or CCDB, a web-accessible database for 3D reconstructions derived from light and electron microscopy, including electron tomography.  In this presentation, I will give a brief overview of these technologies.

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