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Issue 4, 2011
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Dynamics of intermediate filament assembly followed in micro-flow by small angle X-ray scattering

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Abstract

The assembly of intermediate filaments (IFs) is a complex process that can be recapitulated through a series of distinct steps in vitro. The combination of microfluidics and small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) provides a powerful tool to investigate the kinetics of this process on the relevant timescales. Microfluidic mixers based on the principle of hydrodynamic focusing allow for precise control of the mixing of proteins and smaller reagents like ions. Here, we present a multi-layer device that prevents proteins from adsorbing to the channel walls by engulfing the protein jet with a fluid layer of buffer. To ensure compatibility with SAXS, the device is fabricated from UV-curable adhesive (NOA 81). To demonstrate the successful prevention of contact between the protein jet and the channel walls we measure the distribution of a fluorescent dye in the device by confocal microscopy at various flow speeds and compare the results to finite element method (FEM) simulations. The prevention of contact enables the investigation of the assembly of IFs in flow by gradually increasing the salt concentration in the protein jet. The diffusion of salt into the jet can be determined by FEM simulations. SAXS data are collected at different positions in the jet, corresponding to different salt concentrations, and they reveal distinct differences between the earliest assembly states. We find that the mean square radius of gyration perpendicular to the filament axis increases from 13 nm2 to 58 nm2 upon assembly. Thereby we provide dynamic structural data of a complex assembly process that was amenable up to now only by microscopic techniques.

Graphical abstract: Dynamics of intermediate filament assembly followed in micro-flow by small angle X-ray scattering

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Publication details

The article was received on 20 Aug 2010, accepted on 14 Dec 2010 and first published on 06 Jan 2011


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C0LC00319K
Citation: Lab Chip, 2011,11, 708-716
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    Dynamics of intermediate filament assembly followed in micro-flow by small angle X-ray scattering

    M. E. Brennich, J. Nolting, C. Dammann, B. Nöding, S. Bauch, H. Herrmann, T. Pfohl and S. Köster, Lab Chip, 2011, 11, 708
    DOI: 10.1039/C0LC00319K

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