Open source platform for the execution and analysis of mechanical refolding experiments.
ABSTRACT Single-molecule force spectroscopy has facilitated the experimental investigation of biomolecular force-coupled kinetics, from which the kinetics at zero force can be extrapolated via explicit theoretical models. The atomic force microscope (AFM) in particular is routinely used to study protein unfolding kinetics, but only rarely protein folding kinetics. The discrepancy arises because mechanical protein refolding studies are more technically challenging.
We developed software that can drive and analyse mechanical refolding experiments when used with the commercial AFM setup 'Picoforce AFM', Bruker (previously Digital Instruments). We expect the software to be easily adaptable to other AFM setups. We also developed an improved method for the statistical characterization of protein folding kinetics, and implemented it into an AFM-independent software module.
Software and documentation are available at http://code.google.com/p/refolding under Apache License 2.0.
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ABSTRACT: Membrane proteins comprise 30% of the proteome of higher organisms. They mediate energy conversion, signal transduction, solute transport and secretion. Their native environment is a bilayer in a physiological buffer solution, hence their structure and function are preferably assessed in this environment. The surface structure of single membrane proteins can be determined in buffer solutions by atomic force microscopy (AFM) at a lateral resolution of less than 1 nm and a vertical resolution of 0.1-0.2 nm. Moreover, single proteins can be directly addressed, stuck to the AFM stylus and subsequently unfolded, revealing the molecular interactions of the protein studied. The examples discussed here illustrate the power of AFM in the structural analysis of membrane proteins in a native environment.Nature Protocol 02/2007; 2(9):2191-7. · 8.36 Impact Factor