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Title: A unified framework for packing deformable and non-deformable subcellular structures in crowded cryo-electron tomogram simulation
Abstract Background Cryo-electron tomography is an important and powerful technique to explore the structure, abundance, and location of ultrastructure in a near-native state. It contains detailed information of all macromolecular complexes in a sample cell. However, due to the compact and crowded status, the missing edge effect, and low signal to noise ratio (SNR), it is extremely challenging to recover such information with existing image processing methods. Cryo-electron tomogram simulation is an effective solution to test and optimize the performance of the above image processing methods. The simulated images could be regarded as the labeled data which covers a wide range of macromolecular complexes and ultrastructure. To approximate the crowded cellular environment, it is very important to pack these heterogeneous structures as tightly as possible. Besides, simulating non-deformable and deformable components under a unified framework also need to be achieved. Result In this paper, we proposed a unified framework for simulating crowded cryo-electron tomogram images including non-deformable macromolecular complexes and deformable ultrastructures. A macromolecule was approximated using multiple balls with fixed relative positions to reduce the vacuum volume. A ultrastructure, such as membrane and filament, was approximated using multiple balls with flexible relative positions so that this structure could deform more » under force field. In the experiment, 400 macromolecules of 20 representative types were packed into simulated cytoplasm by our framework, and numerical verification proved that our method has a smaller volume and higher compression ratio than the baseline single-ball model. We also packed filaments, membranes and macromolecules together, to obtain a simulated cryo-electron tomogram image with deformable structures. The simulated results are closer to the real Cryo-ET, making the analysis more difficult. The DOG particle picking method and the image segmentation method are tested on our simulation data, and the experimental results show that these methods still have much room for improvement. Conclusion The proposed multi-ball model can achieve more crowded packaging results and contains richer elements with different properties to obtain more realistic cryo-electron tomogram simulation. This enables users to simulate cryo-electron tomogram images with non-deformable macromolecular complexes and deformable ultrastructures under a unified framework. To illustrate the advantages of our framework in improving the compression ratio, we calculated the volume of simulated macromolecular under our multi-ball method and traditional single-ball method. We also performed the packing experiment of filaments and membranes to demonstrate the simulation ability of deformable structures. Our method can be used to do a benchmark by generating large labeled cryo-ET dataset and evaluating existing image processing methods. Since the content of the simulated cryo-ET is more complex and crowded compared with previous ones, it will pose a greater challenge to existing image processing methods. « less
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BMC Bioinformatics
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract Motivation

    Cryo-Electron Tomography (cryo-ET) is a 3D imaging technology that enables the visualization of subcellular structures in situ at near-atomic resolution. Cellular cryo-ET images help in resolving the structures of macromolecules and determining their spatial relationship in a single cell, which has broad significance in cell and structural biology. Subtomogram classification and recognition constitute a primary step in the systematic recovery of these macromolecular structures. Supervised deep learning methods have been proven to be highly accurate and efficient for subtomogram classification, but suffer from limited applicability due to scarcity of annotated data. While generating simulated data for training supervised models is a potential solution, a sizeable difference in the image intensity distribution in generated data as compared with real experimental data will cause the trained models to perform poorly in predicting classes on real subtomograms.


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    Availabilityand implementation

    Supplementary information

    Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

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  2. Cryo-electron tomography (Cryo-ET) has been regarded as a revolution in structural biology and can reveal molecular sociology. Its unprecedented quality enables it to visualize cellular organelles and macromolecular complexes at nanometer resolution with native conformations. Motivated by developments in nanotechnology and machine learning, establishing machine learning approaches such as classification, detection and averaging for Cryo-ET image analysis has inspired broad interest. Yet, deep learning-based methods for biomedical imaging typically require large labeled datasets for good results, which can be a great challenge due to the expense of obtaining and labeling training data. To deal with this problem, we propose a generative model to simulate Cryo-ET images efficiently and reliably: CryoETGAN. This cycle-consistent and Wasserstein generative adversarial network (GAN) is able to generate images with an appearance similar to the original experimental data. Quantitative and visual grading results on generated images are provided to show that the results of our proposed method achieve better performance compared to the previous state-of-the-art simulation methods. Moreover, CryoETGAN is stable to train and capable of generating plausibly diverse image samples.
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    Cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) provides 3D visualization of subcellular components in the near-native state and at sub-molecular resolutions in single cells, demonstrating an increasingly important role in structural biology in situ . However, systematic recognition and recovery of macromolecular structures in cryo-ET data remain challenging as a result of low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), small sizes of macromolecules, and high complexity of the cellular environment. Subtomogram structural classification is an essential step for such task. Although acquisition of large amounts of subtomograms is no longer an obstacle due to advances in automation of data collection, obtaining the same number of structural labels is both computation and labor intensive. On the other hand, existing deep learning based supervised classification approaches are highly demanding on labeled data and have limited ability to learn about new structures rapidly from data containing very few labels of such new structures. In this work, we propose a novel approach for subtomogram classification based on few-shot learning. With our approach, classification of unseen structures in the training data can be conducted given few labeled samples in test data through instance embedding. Experiments were performed on both simulated and real datasets. Our experimental results show that we can make inferencemore »on new structures given only five labeled samples for each class with a competitive accuracy (> 0.86 on the simulated dataset with SNR = 0.1), or even one sample with an accuracy of 0.7644. The results on real datasets are also promising with accuracy > 0.9 on both conditions and even up to 1 on one of the real datasets. Our approach achieves significant improvement compared with the baseline method and has strong capabilities of generalizing to other cellular components.« less
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