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Issue 9, 2012
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Stretching single polysaccharides and proteins using atomic force microscopy

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Abstract

The past years have witnessed remarkable advances in our use of atomic force microscopy (AFM) for stretching single biomolecules, thereby contributing to answering many outstanding questions in biophysics and chemical biology. In these single-molecule force spectroscopy (SMFS) experiments, the AFM tip is continuously approached to and retracted from the biological sample, while monitoring the interaction force. The obtained force–extension curves provide key insight into the molecular elasticity and localization of single molecules, either on isolated systems or on cellular surfaces. In this tutorial review, we describe the principle of such SMFS experiments, and we survey remarkable breakthroughs made in manipulating single polysaccharides and proteins, including understanding the conformational properties of sugars and controlling them by force, measuring the molecular elasticity of mechanical proteins, unfolding and refolding individual proteins, probing proteinligand interactions, and tuning enzymatic reactions by force. In addition, we show how SMFS with AFM tips bearing specific bioligands has enabled researchers to stretch and localize single molecules on live cells, in relation with cellular functions.

Graphical abstract: Stretching single polysaccharides and proteins using atomic force microscopy

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Publication details

The article was received on 01 Dec 2011 and first published on 13 Feb 2012


Article type: Tutorial Review
DOI: 10.1039/C2CS15329G
Citation: Chem. Soc. Rev., 2012,41, 3523-3534
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    Stretching single polysaccharides and proteins using atomic force microscopy

    P. E. Marszalek and Y. F. Dufrêne, Chem. Soc. Rev., 2012, 41, 3523
    DOI: 10.1039/C2CS15329G

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