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Developments in cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) have been interwoven with the study of viruses ever since its first applications to biological systems. Following the success of single particle cryo-EM in the last decade, cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) is now rapidly maturing as a technology and catalysing great advancement in structural virology as its application broadens. In this review, we provide an overview of the use of cryo-ET to study viral infection biology, discussing the key workflows and strategies used in the field. We highlight the vast body of studies performed on purified viruses and virus-like particles (VLPs), as well as discussing how cryo-ET can characterise host-virus interactions and membrane fusion events. We further discuss the importance of in situ cellular imaging in revealing previously unattainable details of infection and highlight the need for validation of high-resolution findings from purified ex situ systems. We give perspectives for future developments to achieve the full potential of cryo-ET to characterise the molecular processes of viral infection.

Original publication




Journal article


Biochem Soc Trans

Publication Date



in situ , correlative microscopy, cryo-EM, cryo-electron tomography, subtomogram averaging, virus infection