Exploring Autophagy with cryo-EM Reconstruction

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Ellen Zhong

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This image simulates cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) of a protein complex that is responsible for initiating cellular autophagy. Autophagy is a process for degrading and recycling damaged cellular components back into their basic building blocks, and its dysregulation is implicated in aging and other diseases.

There were two main reasons for producing these images. The first was to build a model of the supramolecular organization of the autophagy initiation complex (AIC). The second was to develop cryo-EM reconstruction algorithms tailored towards the AIC. I am interested in developing novel machine learning approaches for cryo-EM reconstruction, which would enable the structure determination of entire classes of flexible biomolecular complexes that are recalcitrant to all existing techniques.