Vitreous cryo-section-induced compression influences the interpretation and the reliability of electron microscopy images and tomographic reconstructions. Previous studies of this deformation have been focused at the cellular level where considerable compression occurs, yet the degree of possible intracellular macromolecular deformation has remained unclear. Here, electron cryo-tomographic reconstructions of vitreous cryo-sections show that SOS ribosomes, both intracellular and in an isolated state, appear able to resist section-induced compression. Our observations indicate that vitreous section-induced compression is non-uniform between whole cells that have been sectioned and their intracellular macromolecular complexes. We conclude that electron cryo-tomography of vitreous cryo-sections, in spite of section-induced compression, is a suitable technique for charting the structural organization of cellular nanomachines, such as ribosomes, in a cellular environment.
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