A Minimal Optical Trapping and Imaging Microscopy System

Hernández Candia, Carmen Noemí; Tafoya Martínez, Sara; Gutiérrez-Medina, Braulio
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
We report the construction and testing of a simple and versatile optical trapping apparatus, suitable for visualizing individual microtubules (∼25 nm in diameter) and performing single-molecule studies, using a minimal set of components. This design is based on a conventional, inverted microscope, operating under plain bright field illumination. A single laser beam enables standard optical trapping and the measurement of molecular displacements and forces, whereas digital image processing affords real-time sample visualization with reduced noise and enhanced contrast. We have tested our trapping and imaging instrument by measuring the persistence length of individual double-stranded DNA molecules, and by following the stepping of single kinesin motor proteins along clearly imaged microtubules. The approach presented here provides a straightforward alternative for studies of biomaterials and individual biomolecules.


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