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New technique reveals subtle force-induced changes in biomolecule's conformation
Date:10/16/2007

ed laser beam locks onto a microsphere attached to one end of the molecule to be studied. The optical trap can then pull on the molecule like a pair of tweezers.

The project is funded by the Physics and Molecular and Cellular Biosciences divisions at the National Science Foundation (NSF) through a CAREER award for the development and utilization of advanced single-molecule techniques to study the fundamentals of DNA-protein interactions.

Past techniques, such as X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance, have provided a vast amount of structural detail for biological molecules, but the data is largely limited to a static view. Single molecule approaches make it possible to study dynamic interactions at the single molecule level. The ability to follow bioprocesses as they actually occur in real time transforms the way we visualize and ultimately understand the complex dynamics of living systems.

"The two NSF divisions supporting this project have been working closely together for several years to foster this research and other similar approaches," said NSF Program Manager Denise Caldwell. "These results highlight the importance of fostering a cross-disciplinary approach to understanding complex living systems because input from both directions is essential to the success of the project." She added that "a lot of junior scientists are migrating into fields like this one because the science is intellectually exciting."


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Contact: Diane Banegas
dbanegas@nsf.gov
703-292-4489
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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