The macromolecular machines of cells pose structural questions that span over six orders of magnitude in scale from the tenths of nanometers (atoms) to tens of microns (cells). This large range of scale exceeds the capabilities of any one technique. As a result, structural biologists have increasingly turned to the use of hybrid approaches. For example, the combination of x-ray crystallography and cryoelectron microscopy has been widely used to probe the structure and mechanics of large complexes (e.g. viruses, ribosomes, proteosomes, chaperones, actin filaments and microtubules) in vitro at the near atomic level. In this project we will explore technologies to link these first generation hybrid techniques, single molecule optical microscopy, and cryoelectron tomography to characterize the structure and function of macromolecular complexes in the context of the whole cell. The technologies that will be developed include the use of optical imaging methods to characterize the functional state of macromolecular complexes in cells imbedded in vitreous ice and determine their location with very high precision (tens of nm), development of a cold stage that will permit the optical positional mapping to be transferred to the electron microscope, development of computational tools to locate, identify, and determine the structures of macromolecular complexes in cryoelectron tomographic reconstructions, and refinement of computational tools to match these structures with higher resolution structures derived from conventional in vitro methods. In our initial studies we will use the new technologies to characterize the cell entry pathway of poliovirus. This model was chosen because of its biological relevance (the cell entry mechanisms of nonenveloped viruses are poorly understood) and because structures of several relevant cell entry intermediates in vitro are already known. The techniques developed will be generally applicable to a wide range of macromolecular complexes. In this project will develop technologies that will combine fluorescence optical microscopy and cryoelectron tomography to characterize the structure and function of intracellular macromolecular assemblies at the molecular level in situ. The technology will be relevant to a wide range of intracellular structures, and will add significantly to our basic understanding of the structure and function of """"""""cellular machines.""""""""
|Hu, Guo-Bin (2014) Whole cell cryo-electron tomography suggests mitochondria divide by budding. Microsc Microanal 20:1180-7|