Identification of macromolecular complexes in cryoelectron tomograms of phantom cells

Achilleas S. Frangakis, Jochen Böhm, Friedrich Förster, Stephan Nickell, Daniela Nicastro, Dieter Typke, Reiner Hegerl, Wolfgang Baumeister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

217 Scopus citations


Electron tomograms of intact frozen-hydrated cells are essentially three-dimensional images of the entire proteome of the cell, and they depict the whole network of macromolecular interactions. However, this information is not easily accessible because of the poor signal-to-noise ratio of the tomograms and the crowded nature of the cytoplasm. Here, we describe a template matching algorithm that is capable of detecting and identifying macromolecules in tomographic volumes in a fully automated manner. The algorithm is based on nonlinear cross correlation and incorporates elements of multivariate statistical analysis. Phantom cells, i.e., lipid vesicles filled with macromolecules, provide a realistic experimental scenario for an assessment of the fidelity of this approach. At the current resolution of ≈4 nm, macromolecules in the size range of 0.5-1 MDa can be identified with good fidelity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14153-14158
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number22
StatePublished - Oct 29 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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