When biological macromolecules are imaged in the transmission electron microscope (TEM), their inherent handedness is lost because the three-dimensional (3D) structure is projected onto a two-dimensional (2D) plane, and identical 2D projections can be made from either 3D enantiomer. Nevertheless, tilt experiments in the TEM can be used to determine handedness. These experiments have been performed successfully on negatively stained specimens. More recently, the method was applied to unstained, frozen-hydrated specimens imaged by means of cryoelectron microscopy (cryoTEM) methods. Tilt experiments involve recording two micrographs of the same particles at different tilt angles, computing enantiomeric reconstructions from particle images in one micrograph, predicting orientations of corresponding particles in the second micrograph, and comparing model projections with particle images in the second micrograph. In principle, this procedure can be used to determine the handedness of any biological macromolecule imaged by cryoTEM, provided the enantiomeric reconstructions are distinguishable.
Journal of Structural Biology – Elsevier
Published: Oct 1, 1997
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