Limulus sperm contains a dynamic macromolecular structure that rapidly extends a 50-μum process called the true discharge. The core of this structure is a bundle of ordered filaments composed of a complex of actin, scruin and calmodulin. We have shown that small segments along the bundle can be treated as single crystals with a unit cell spacing of 144 × 144 × 766 Å. A tomographic reconstruction of the bundle was done from multiple tilt series of images to ∼40 Å resolution. To extend the structural determination of the bundle at a higher resolution, we have used electron crystallographic analysis of single images of the bundles preserved in vitreous ice. Furthermore, we did not employ any helical or crystallographic symmetry (other than PI) in the reconstruction procedure.
Acrosomal bundles from Limulus sperm cells were purified as described earlier. Images of frozen hydrated bundles were taken at 40,000x EM magnification in a JEOL 4000EX electron cryomicroscope using an electron dose of 6 - 10 electrons/Å2.