Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Tug At Molecules With Optical Tweezers

Date:
July 7, 2008
Source:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Summary:
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.

The strength of actin binding protein interactions cross-linking a surface bound and bead tethered actin filament are probed using force from an optical trap. Filamin in green which forms networks of actin filaments shown as a confocal image on the right and alpha-actinin in blue which bundles actin filaments, shown as an image on the left, were probed using this assay configuration.
Credit: Image courtesy / Hyungsuk Lee, Jorge M. Ferrer, and Matthew J. Lang

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 and senior author of a paper on the work appearing in the June 30 advanced online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Last fall, Lang and others demonstrated that light beams could be used to pick up and move individual cells around the surface of a microchip.

Now they have applied the optical tweezers to measuring protein microarchitectures, allowing them to study the forces that give cells their structure and the ability to move.

The researchers focused on proteins that bind to actin filaments, an important component of the cytoskeleton. Depending on the arrangement and interaction of actin filaments, they can provide structural support, help the cell crawl across a surface or sustain a load (in muscle cells).

"We're trying to understand how nature engineered these molecular linkages to use in different ways," said Lang.

Actin filaments are most commonly found either bonded or crosslinked by a much smaller actin binding protein.

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).

The same technique could be used to investigate many of the other hundreds of protein interactions that occur in the cytoskeleton, said Lang.

Lead author of the paper is Jorge Ferrer, a recent PhD recipient in biological engineering. Other MIT authors of the paper are Hyungsuk Lee and Benjamin Pelz, graduate students in mechanical engineering; and Roger Kamm, the Germeshausen Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biological Engineering. Jiong Chen of Stony Brook University and Fumihiko Nakamura of Harvard Medical School are also authors of the paper.

The research was funded by the Nicholas Hobson Wheeles Jr. Fellowship, the W.M. Keck Foundation, and the Westaway Research Fund.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Researchers Tug At Molecules With Optical Tweezers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080630173937.htm>.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2008, July 7). Researchers Tug At Molecules With Optical Tweezers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080630173937.htm
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Researchers Tug At Molecules With Optical Tweezers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080630173937.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shipping Crates Get New 'lease' On Life

Shipping Crates Get New 'lease' On Life

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 25, 2014) Shipping containers have been piling up as America imports more than it exports. Some university students in Washington D.C. are set to get a first-hand lesson in recycling. Their housing is being built using refashioned shipping containers. Lily Jamali reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins