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Biological Applications at the Cutting Edge of Cryo-Electron Microscopy

  • Rebecca S. Dillard (a1), Cheri M. Hampton (a1), Joshua D. Strauss (a1), Zunlong Ke (a1) (a2), Deanna Altomara (a1), Ricardo C. Guerrero-Ferreira (a1), Gabriella Kiss (a1) and Elizabeth R. Wright (a1) (a3)...


Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is a powerful tool for macromolecular to near-atomic resolution structure determination in the biological sciences. The specimen is maintained in a near-native environment within a thin film of vitreous ice and imaged in a transmission electron microscope. The images can then be processed by a number of computational methods to produce three-dimensional information. Recent advances in sample preparation, imaging, and data processing have led to tremendous growth in the field of cryo-EM by providing higher resolution structures and the ability to investigate macromolecules within the context of the cell. Here, we review developments in sample preparation methods and substrates, detectors, phase plates, and cryo-correlative light and electron microscopy that have contributed to this expansion. We also have included specific biological applications.


Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence: Elizabeth R. Wright, E-mail:


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Current address: Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio 45433, USA.

Current address: Center for Cellular Imaging and NanoAnalytics (C-CINA), Biozentrum, University of Basel, Mattenstrasse 26, 4058 Basel, Switzerland.


Current address: Thermo Fisher Scientific, 5350 NE Dawson Creek Drive, Hillsboro, OR 97124, USA.


Current address: Department of Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA.



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