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Single Molecule Force Microscopy on Cells and Biological Membranes

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Atomic force microscopy (AFM) enables high resolution topographic imaging of biological samples under near-physiological conditions. Therefore, the AFM is optimally suited for investigation of biological membranes and cell surfaces, as exemplified by studies on bacterial S-layers, purple membranes and cultured living cells. Topographic imaging allows visualizing single proteins and protein assemblies in native membranes, as well as substructures of live cells, such as cytoskeletal architecture. In addition to high-resolution imaging, the measurement of mechanical forces yields detailed insight into structure-function relationships of molecular processes in their native environment. In molecular recognition force microscopy, interaction forces between tip-bound ligands and membrane-embedded receptors can be studied under well-controlled buffer conditions and effector's concentrations. In case of low lateral density and inhomogeneous distribution of the target molecules in a cell membrane, fluorescence microscopy can help to guide the AFM tip to the membrane proteins of interest, which can subsequently be investigated by molecular recognition force microscopy.

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Keywords: Atomic force microscopy (AFM); Cell membranes; Force spectroscopy; Membrane proteins; Molecular forces; Molecular recognition; Recognition imaging

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute for Biophysics, J. Kepler University of Linz, Altenbergerstrasse 69, A-4040 Linz, Austria.

Publication date: February 1, 2007

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  • Current Nanoscience publishes authoritative reviews and original research reports, written by experts in the field on all the most recent advances in nanoscience and nanotechnology. All aspects of the field are represented including nano- structures, synthesis, properties, assembly and devices. Applications of nanoscience in biotechnology, medicine, pharmaceuticals, physics, material science and electronics are also covered. The journal is essential to all involved in nanoscience and its applied areas.
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