Measuring Protein Bond Strength with Optical Tweezers

Posted on July 3, 2008  Comments (0)

Using a light touch to measure protein bonds

MIT researchers have developed a novel technique to measure the strength of the bonds between two protein molecules important in cell machinery: Gently tugging them apart with light beams. “It’s really giving us a molecular-level picture of what’s going on,” said Matthew Lang, an assistant professor of biological and mechanical engineering

The researchers studied the interactions between the proteins by pinning one actin filament to a surface and controlling the motion of the second one with a beam of light. As the researchers tug on a bead attached to the second filament, the bond mediated by the actin-binding protein eventually breaks.

With this technique, the researchers can get a precise measurement of the force holding the proteins together, which is on the order of piconewtons (10-12 newtons).

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