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Single Molecule Studies in Chemical Biology and Nanosciences

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Modern ultra-sensitive instrumental skill and expertise on surface modification of single biological molecules have sharpened the capabilities of scientists to address important current problems and explore new frontiers in many scientific disciplines including chemistry, molecular biology, molecular medicine and nano-structured materials. Development in single molecule studies (SMS) and manipulation (SMM) in the past two decades has unearthed very important information hidden in chemical biology and nanosciences that was not possible earlier by ensemble measurements. For example, studying motion of biological motors like ATP synthase, DNA polymerase, RNA polymerase, etc could only be possible through single molecule manipulation. Single molecule fluorescence spectroscopy and studies could, for the first time directly show the surface dependent catalytic activities of a catalyst and angular distribution of emission of single chromophore unit. Estimation of step size of linear motors like myosin, kinesin, dynein, etc. was possible due to the development of single molecule fluorescence imaging with one nanometer accuracy and other techniques. Single molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer could measure the distance between two moieties present in a single biomolecule and study the kinetics. Twisting DNA topoisomerase was directly observed by single molecule imaging technique. The dynamic properties of biomolecules through SMS have been expanding to DNA sequencing, sizing, conformational study, protein-DNA interaction, molecular motors, protein folding, conformational study, diffusion of single biomolecule in membrane, biomolecular reaction dynamics and single virus tracing etc. In this review our focus is to summarize some of the recent developments in single molecule studies and manipulation as mentioned above in chemical biology and nanosciences.

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Keywords: SMM; SMS; chemical biology; chemo-mechanical energy coupling; conformation and folding; defocused orientation imaging; nanosciences

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • Current Chemical Biology aims to publish full-length and mini reviews on exciting new developments at the chemistry-biology interface, covering topics relating to Chemical Synthesis, Science at Chemistry-Biology Interface and Chemical Mechanisms of Biological Systems.

    Current Chemical Biology covers the following areas: Chemical Synthesis (Syntheses of biologically important macromolecules including proteins, polypeptides, oligonucleotides, oligosaccharides etc.; Asymmetric synthesis; Combinatorial synthesis; Diversity-oriented synthesis; Template-directed synthesis; Biomimetic synthesis; Solid phase biomolecular synthesis; Synthesis of small biomolecules: amino acids, peptides, lipids, carbohydrates and nucleosides; and Natural product synthesis).

    Science at Chemistry-Biology Interface (Chemical informatics; Macromolecular catalysts and receptors; Enzymatic synthesis; Biosynthetic engineering; Combinatorial biosynthesis; Plant cell based chemistry; Bacterial and viral cell based chemistry; Chemistry of cellular processes in plants/animals; Receptor chemistry; Cell signaling chemistry; Drug design through understanding of disease processes; Synthetic biology; New high throughput screening techniques; Small molecular array fabrication; Chemical genomics; Chemical and biological approaches to carbohydrates proteins and nucleic acids design; Chemical and biological regulation of biosynthetic pathways; and Unnatural biomolecular analogs).
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