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Single-particle reconstruction of biological macromolecules in electron microscopy – 30 years

  • Joachim Frank (a1) (a2)

This essay gives the autho's personal account on the development of concepts underlying single-particle reconstruction, a technique in electron microscopy of macromolecular assemblies with a remarkable record of achievements as of late. The ribosome proved to be an ideal testing ground for the development of specimen preparation methods, cryo-EM techniques, and algorithms, with discoveries along the way as a rich reward. Increasingly, cryo-EM and single-particle reconstruction, in combination with classification techniques, is revealing dynamic information on functional molecular machines uninhibited by molecular contacts.

Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence: Dr J. Frank, The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Columbia University, P&S BB 2-221, 650 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA. Email:
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Quarterly Reviews of Biophysics
  • ISSN: 0033-5835
  • EISSN: 1469-8994
  • URL: /core/journals/quarterly-reviews-of-biophysics
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