Three-Dimensional Reconstructions of Organelles and Cellular Processes

  • Bruce F. McEwen


In the field of structural biology, the size of a structure often dictates the approach that must be used to study it. This is true for the three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction studies described in this chapter, which include the cilium, the kinetochore, sites of vertebrate calcification, the dendrite, the Golgi apparatus, patch-clamped membranes, and puff ball spores. All of these structures, as well as most of those discussed in Chapter 14, have diameters or thicknesses ranging from about 0.1 to 5.0 microns. The methodology used to compute these 3D reconstructions is quite different from the one used for the smaller and less complex structures described in Chapter 15. The size difference between the two groups of structures is illustrated in Fig. 1, where the 3D reconstructions of a cilium and a 50S ribosomal subunit are shown side by side on the same scale. Note that the cilium is in fact the smallest object considered in the present chapter. This size difference has two important consequences for the 3D reconstruction problem: (1) Generally, the individual specimens of the larger objects are not identical while those of smaller objects often are; and (2) the larger objects have a greater structural complexity at the limiting resolution level.


Tomographic Reconstruction High Voltage Electron Microscopy Shade Surface Outer Plate Radial Spoke 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce F. McEwen
    • 1
  1. 1.Wadsworth Center for Laboratories and ResearchNew York State Department of HealthAlbanyUSA

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