Detecting consistent common lines in cryo-EM by voting

Amit Singer, Ronald R. Coifman, Fred J. Sigworth, David W. Chester, Yoel Shkolnisky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The single-particle reconstruction problem of electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) is to find the three-dimensional structure of a macromolecule given its two-dimensional noisy projection images at unknown random directions. Ab initio estimates of the 3D structure are often obtained by the "Angular Reconstitution" method, in which a coordinate system is established from three projections, and the orientation of the particle giving rise to each image is deduced from common lines among the images. However, a reliable detection of common lines is difficult due to the low signal-to-noise ratio of the images. In this paper we describe a global self-correcting voting procedure in which all projection images participate to decide the identity of the consistent common lines. The algorithm determines which common line pairs were detected correctly and which are spurious. We show that the voting procedure succeeds at relatively low detection rates and that its performance improves as the number of projection images increases. We demonstrate the algorithm for both simulative and experimental images of the 50S ribosomal subunit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-322
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Structural Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology


  • Angular reconstitution
  • Bayesian approach
  • Common lines
  • Cryo-electron microscopy
  • Single particle reconstruction


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