Visualization of alpha-helices in tobacco mosaic virus by cryo-electron microscopy.

Jeng TW, Crowther RA, Stubbs G, Chiu W
J Mol Biol. 1989 205 (1): 251-7

PMID: 2926805 · DOI:10.1016/0022-2836(89)90379-3

We have used tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) as a test specimen, in order to develop techniques for the analysis of high-resolution structural detail in electron micrographs of biological assemblies with helical symmetry. It has previously been shown that internal details of protein structure can be visualized by processing electron micrographs of unstained specimens of extended two-dimensional crystalline arrays. However, the techniques should in principle be applicable to other periodic specimens, such as assemblies with helical symmetry. We show here that data to spacings better than 10 A can be retrieved from electron images of frozen hydrated TMV. The three-dimensional computed map agrees well with that derived from X-ray diffraction and shows the two pairs of alpha-helices forming the core of the coat subunit, the C alpha-helix and the viral RNA. The results demonstrate that it is possible to determine detailed internal structure in helical particles.

MeSH Terms (4)

Freezing Macromolecular Substances Microscopy, Electron Tobacco Mosaic Virus

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