Quarterly Reviews of Biophysics

Research Article

Cryo-electron microscopy of vitrified specimens

Jacques Dubocheta1 p1, Marc Adriana1 p2, Jiin-Ju Changa1 p3, Jean-Claude Homoa1 p4, Jean Lepaulta1 p5, Alasdair W. McDowalla1 p6 and Patrick Schultza1 p4

a1 European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Postfach 10. 2209, D-6900 Heidelberg, FRG

Cryo-electron microscopy of vitrified specimens was just emerging as a practical method when Richard Henderson proposed that we should teach an EMBO course on the new technique. The request seemed to come too early because at that moment the method looked more like a laboratory game than a useful tool. However, during the months which ellapsed before the start of the course, several of the major difficulties associated with electron microscopy of vitrified specimens found surprisingly elegant solutions or simply became non-existent. The course could therefore take place under favourable circumstances in the summer of 1983. It was repeated the following years and cryo-electron microscopy spread rapidly. Since that time, water, which was once the arch enemy of all electronmicroscopists, became what it always was in nature – an integral part of biological matter and a beautiful substance.


p1 Present addresses: Present addresses: Centre de Microscopie Electronique (CME), 27 Rue du Bugnon, CH-105 Lausanne

p2 Present addresses: Laboratoire Européen de Biologie Moléculaire, I.L.L. 156X; F-38042 Grenoble Cedex

p3 Present addresses: The Institute of Biophysics, Academica Sinica, Peking, China

p4 Present addresses: Institut de Biochimie, 11 Rue Humann, F-67000 Strasbourg

p5 Present addresses: Centre de Génétique Moléculaire, C.N.R.S., F-91190 Gif/Yvette

p6 Present addresses: Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Health Science Centre, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd. MY5–310, Dallas, Texas 75235–9050, USA.