Locating macromolecular assemblies in cells by 2D template matching with cisTEM

Publication Type

Journal Article

Year of Publication


Refereed Designation

Not refereed






Over the last decade, single-particle electron cryo-microscopy has become one of the main techniques contributing to the growing library of high-resolution structures of macromolecules and their assemblies. For a full understanding of molecular mechanisms, however, it is important to place them into the broader context of a cell. Traditionally, this context can be visualized in 3D by electron cryo-tomography, and more recently, has also been studied by template matching of 2D images of cells and viruses. A current limitation of the latter approach is the high computational cost that limits the throughput and widespread adoption of this method. We describe here a GPU-accelerated implementation of 2D template matching in the image processing software cisTEM that allows for easy scaling and improves the accessibility of this approach. We apply 2D template matching to identify ribosomes in images of frozen-hydrated Mycoplasma pneumoniae cells and demonstrate that it can function as a versatile tool for in situ visual proteomics and in situ structure determination. We compare the results with 3D template matching of tomograms acquired on identical sample locations. We identify strengths and weaknesses of both techniques which offer complementary information about target localization and identity.