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Electron Tomography

  1. Wanzhong He1,
  2. José-Jesús Fernández2

Published Online: 15 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0021877

eLS

eLS

How to Cite

He, W. and Fernández, J.-J. 2010. Electron Tomography. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    National University of Singapore, Department of Biological Sciences, Singapore

  2. 2

    Centro Nacional de Biotecnología – CSIC, Cantoblanco, Madrid, Spain

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JAN 2010

Abstract

Electron tomography (ET) is an emerging electron microscopy (EM) technique for the three-dimensional (3D) visualization of the cellular architecture and molecular organization in native cells at nanometer scale. ET thus bridges the gap between the low-resolution imaging techniques and the high-resolution structural techniques. In ET a series of images is taken from a single specimen at different projecting orientations. The 3D map computed from these images is subsequently subjected to visualization and interpretation. Thanks to several recent innovations in EM, including improved specimen preparation techniques, novel EM hardware and software, reliable genetic and molecular labelling approaches, ET is rapidly becoming a powerful bioimaging tool for precisely dissecting the macromolecular organizations and cellular events captured from living cells in health and disease. Thus many previously unanswered molecular mechanisms responsible for the specific cellular functions could be clearly elucidated by the ET technology.

Key concepts:

  • Electron tomography allows visualization of cellular architecture and molecular organization in native cells at nanometer scale in 3D.

  • Electron tomography bridges the resolution gap between the low resolution imaging techniques and the high-resolution structural techniques.

  • The biological specimen has to be specially prepared before it is imaged in the electron microscope.

  • Data acquisition strategies have to be used to obtain reasonable image contrast and reduce the electron-dose damage.

  • The 3D map is calculated from a series of 2D EM projection images recorded from the specimen at different projecting orientations.

  • Several post-processing stages are intended to facilitate the interpretation of the complex 3D maps.

Keywords:

  • electron tomography;
  • cryo-electron microscopy;
  • cell biology;
  • bioimaging