[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Interaction forces of membrane protein subunits are of importance in their structure, assembly, membrane insertion, and function. In biological membranes, and in the photosynthetic apparatus as a paradigm, membrane proteins fulfill their function by ensemble actions integrating a tight assembly of several proteins. In the bacterial photosynthetic apparatus light-harvesting complexes 2 (LH2) transfer light energy to neighboring tightly associated core complexes, constituted of light-harvesting complexes 1 (LH1) and reaction centers (RC). While the architecture of the photosynthetic unit has been described, the forces and energies assuring the structural and functional integrity of LH2, the assembly of LH2 complexes, and how LH2 interact with the other proteins in the supramolecular architecture are still unknown. Here we investigate the molecular forces of the bacterial LH2 within the native photosynthetic membrane using atomic force microscopy single-molecule imaging and force measurement in combination. The binding between LH2 subunits is fairly weak, of the order of k(B)T, indicating the importance of LH2 ring architecture. In contrast LH2 subunits are solid with a free energy difference of 90 k(B)T between folded and unfolded states. Subunit α-helices unfold either in one-step, α- and β-polypeptides unfold together, or sequentially. The unfolding force of transmembrane helices is approximately 150 pN. In the two-step unfolding process, the β-polypeptide is stabilized by the molecular environment in the membrane. Hence, intermolecular forces influence the structural and functional integrity of LH2.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/2011; 108(23):9455-9. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Scanning probe microscopy-based techniques can address and manipulate individual molecules. This makes it possible to use them for building nanostructures by assembling single molecules. Recently the formation of surface structures by positioning single molecules with the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) was demonstrated on an irreversible delivery process. This inherits the drawback, that the transfer has to occur between differently functionalized surfaces and allows no proofreading of the built structures. Here we demonstrate a procedure for directed deposition of single DNA molecules, which intrinsically allows a reversible positioning. This method uses specific interactions between complementary DNA oligonucleotides for symmetric coupling of the transport molecules to the support and AFM tip, respectively. Thus, it allows for a simple "drag-and-drop" procedure, which relies on the statistical breakage of the molecular interaction under a force load. In addition, the delivery of the transport molecules was observed in real-time by single-molecule fluorescence microscopy.
Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology 08/2010; 10(8):5328-32. · 1.15 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Force spectroscopy allows testing the free energy landscapes of molecular interactions. Usually, the dependency of the most probable rupture force on the force rate or the shape of the rupture force histogram is fitted with different models that contain approximations and basic assumptions. We present a simple and model free approach to extract the force-dependent dissociation rates directly from the force curve data. Simulations show that the dissociation rates at any force are given directly by the ratio of the number of detected rupture events to the time this force was acting on the bond. To calculate these total times of acting forces, all force curve data points of all curves measured are taken into account, which significantly increases the amount of information which is considered for data analysis compared to other methods. Moreover, by providing force-dependent dissociation rates this method allows direct testing and validating of any energy landscape model.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Microbial rhodopsins are a family of seven-helical transmembrane proteins containing retinal as chromophore. Sensory rhodopsin II (SRII) triggers two very different responses upon light excitation, depending on the presence or the absence of its cognate transducer HtrII: Whereas light activation of the NpSRII/NpHtrII complex activates a signalling cascade that initiates the photophobic response, NpSRII alone acts as a proton pump. Using single-molecule force spectroscopy, we analysed the stability of NpSRII and its complex with the transducer in the dark and under illumination. By improving force spectroscopic data analysis, we were able to reveal the localisation of occurring forces within the protein chain with a resolution of about six amino acids. Distinct regions in helices G and F were affected differently, depending on the experimental conditions. The results are generally in line with previous data on the molecular stability of NpSRII. Interestingly, new interaction sites were identified upon light activation, whose functional importance is discussed in detail.
Journal of Molecular Biology 08/2009; 394(3):383-90. · 3.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Covalent chemisorption of biomolecules to surfaces with high density and low unspecific background is prerequisite for most optical and mechanical single molecule experiments and accordingly, many recipes have been developed. However, new establishment of the surface functionalization process in the lab usually is still difficult and time consuming due to the complex procedures containing many pitfalls. Therefore, based on the known recipes, we developed and optimized a simple straight forward protocol. We demonstrated it resulting in a high density of the coupled biomolecules, homogeneous surfaces and a low unspecific background when binding nucleic acids, peptides and proteins. The protocol was optimized for borosilicate cover glasses and silicon nitride atomic force microscope cantilevers commonly used in single molecule experiments and takes advantage of commonly used chemicals. It consists of only four steps, silanol group generation, amination, grafting of poly(ethylene glycol) to the surface and biomolecule coupling. All individual steps were optimized comparing different variations partially described in the literature. Finally, a detailed description is provided which allows avoiding most sources of contamination, often being a main hurdle on the way to single molecule experiments.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To measure forces acting on a chainlike molecule in liquid, we introduce a dynamic approach based on the frequency-modulation technique with constant-excitation. In difference to the classical approach where the force is recorded as a conventional force versus distance curve in a static measurement, we are able to detect simultaneously the conservative force as well as the energy dissipation during the elongation of a chainlike molecule. We apply this technique to dextran monomers and demonstrate the agreement of the experimental force curves with a ``single-click'' model.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We present advances in the use of single-molecule FRET measurements with flexibly linked dyes to derive full 3D structures of DNA constructs based on absolute distances. The resolution obtained by this single-molecule approach harbours the potential to study in detail also protein- or damage-induced DNA bending. If one is to generate a geometric structural model, distances between fixed positions are needed. These are usually not experimentally accessible because of unknown fluorophore-linker mobility effects that lead to a distribution of FRET efficiencies and distances. To solve this problem, we performed studies on DNA double-helices by systematically varying donor acceptor distances from 2 to 10 nm. Analysis of dye-dye quenching and fluorescence anisotropy measurements reveal slow positional and fast orientational fluorophore dynamics, that results in an isotropic average of the FRET efficiency. We use a nonlinear conversion function based on MD simulations that allows us to include this effect in the calculation of absolute FRET distances. To obtain unique structures, we performed a quantitative statistical analysis for the conformational search in full space based on triangulation, which uses the known helical nucleic acid features. Our higher accuracy allowed the detection of sequence-dependent DNA bending by 16 degrees . For DNA with bulged adenosines, we also quantified the kink angles introduced by the insertion of 1, 3 and 5 bases to be 32 degrees +/- 6 degrees , 56 degrees +/- 4 degrees and 73 +/- 2 degrees , respectively. Moreover, the rotation angles and shifts of the helices were calculated to describe the relative orientation of the two arms in detail.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2008; 105(47):18337-42. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In haloarchaea, sensory rhodopsin II (SRII) mediates a photophobic response to avoid photo-oxidative damage in bright light. Upon light activation the receptor undergoes a conformational change that activates a tightly bound transducer molecule (HtrII), which in turn by a chain of homologous reactions transmits the signal to the chemotactic eubacterial two-component system. Here, using single-molecule force spectroscopy, we localize and quantify changes to the intramolecular interactions within SRII of Natronomonas pharaonis (NpSRII) upon NpHtrII binding. Transducer binding affected the interactions at transmembrane alpha helices F and G of NpSRII to which the transducer was in contact. Remarkably, the interactions were distributed asymmetrically and significantly stabilized alpha helix G entirely but alpha helix F only at its extracellular tip. These findings provide unique insights into molecular mechanisms that "prime" the complex for signaling, and guide the receptor toward transmitting light-activated structural changes to its cognate transducer.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A new general strategy based on the use of multiparameter fluorescence detection (MFD) to register and quantitatively analyse fluorescence images is introduced. Multiparameter fluorescence imaging (MFDi) uses pulsed excitation, time-correlated single-photon counting and a special pixel clock to simultaneously monitor the changes in the eight-dimensional fluorescence information (fundamental anisotropy, fluorescence lifetime, fluorescence intensity, time, excitation spectrum, fluorescence spectrum, fluorescence quantum yield, distance between fluorophores) in real time. The three spatial coordinates are also stored. The most statistically efficient techniques known from single-molecule spectroscopy are used to estimate fluorescence parameters of interest for all pixels, not just for the regions of interest. Their statistical significance is judged from a stack of two-dimensional histograms. In this way, specific pixels can be selected for subsequent pixel-based subensemble analysis in order to improve the statistical accuracy of the parameters estimated. MFDi avoids the need for sequential measurements, because the registered data allow one to perform many analysis techniques, such as fluorescence-intensity distribution analysis (FIDA) and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), in an off-line mode. The limitations of FCS for counting molecules and monitoring dynamics are discussed. To demonstrate the ability of our technique, we analysed two systems: (i) interactions of the fluorescent dye Rhodamine 110 inside and outside of a glutathione sepharose bead, and (ii) microtubule dynamics in live yeast cells of Schizosaccharomyces pombe using a fusion protein of Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) with Minichromosome Altered Loss Protein 3 (Mal3), which is involved in the dynamic cycle of polymerising and depolymerising microtubules.
Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 02/2007; 387(1):71-82. · 3.66 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Atomic force microscopy (AFM) has developed into a powerful tool in biophysics to assess the structure and measure the inter- and intramolecular forces of biological objects. At the cutting-edge, imaging and force measurements are performed on individual membrane proteins. Here, recent achievements of high-resolution imaging and imaging in combination with controlled force measurement using AFM are reviewed. High-resolution imaging can yield topographical information to ∼ 10 Å resolution. The comparison with protein structures from X-ray crystallography shows that surface protruding loops of no more than 5 aminoacids are reliably contoured. Force measurements reveal intramolecular forces with a precision of ∼ 10 pN. Again, the comparison with atomic structures shows that forces between pairs of transmembrane helices are probed. As a major advantage, the combination of force spectroscopy measurements with high resolution imaging allow assignment of measured unfolding events with topographical changes.
Current Nanoscience 10/2006; 2(4):329-335. · 1.36 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The kink-turn (k-turn), a new RNA structural motif found in the spliceosome and the ribosome, serves as a specific protein recognition element and as a structural building block. While the structure of the spliceosomal U4 snRNA k-turn/15.5K complex is known from a crystal structure, it is unclear whether the k-turn also exists in this folded conformation in the free U4 snRNA. Thus, we investigated the U4 snRNA k-turn by single-molecule FRET measurements in the absence and presence of the 15.5K protein and its dependence on the Na(+) and Mg(2+) ion concentration. We show that the unfolded U4 snRNA k-turn introduces a kink of 85 degrees +/- 15 degrees in an RNA double helix. While Na(+) and Mg(2+) ions induce this more open conformation of the k-turn, binding of the 15.5K protein was found to induce the tightly kinked conformation in the RNA that increases the kink to 52 degrees +/- 15 degrees . By comparison of the measured FRET distances with a computer-modeled structure, we show that this strong kink is due to the k-turn motif adopting its folded conformation. Thus, in the free U4 snRNA, the k-turn exists only in an unfolded conformation, and its folding is induced by binding of the 15.5K protein.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A parallel assay for the quantification of single-molecule binding forces was developed based on differential unbinding force measurements where ligand-receptor interactions are compared with the unzipping forces of DNA hybrids. Using the DNA zippers as molecular force sensors, the efficient discrimination between specific and nonspecific interactions was demonstrated for small molecules binding to specific receptors, as well as for protein-protein interactions on protein arrays. Finally, an antibody sandwich assay with different capture antibodies on one chip surface and with the detection antibodies linked to a congruent surface via the DNA zippers was used to capture and quantify a recombinant hepatitis C antigen from solution. In this case, the DNA zippers enable not only discrimination between specific and nonspecific binding, but also allow for the local application of detection antibodies, thereby eliminating false-positive results caused by cross-reactive antibodies and nonspecific binding.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10/2003; 100(20):11356-60. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The combination of high-resolution atomic force microscopy imaging and single-molecule force spectroscopy allows the identification, selection, and mechanical investigation of individual proteins. In a recent paper we had used this technique to unfold and extract single bacteriorhodopsins (BRs) from native purple membrane patches. We show that subsets of the unfolding spectra can be classified and grouped to reveal detailed insight into the individualism of the unfolding pathways. We have further developed this technique and analysis to report here on the influence of pH effects and local mutations on the stability of individual structural elements of BR against mechanical unfolding. We found that, although the seven transmembrane alpha-helices predominantly unfold in pairs, each of the helices may also unfold individually and in some cases even only partially. Additionally, intermittent states in the unfolding process were found, which are associated with the stretching of the extracellular loops connecting the alpha-helices. This suggests that polypeptide loops potentially act as a barrier to unfolding and contribute significantly to the structural stability of BR. Chemical removal of the Schiff base, the covalent linkage of the photoactive retinal to the helix G, resulted in a predominantly two-step unfolding of this helix. It is concluded that the covalent linkage of the retinal to helix G stabilizes the structure of BR. Trapping mutant D96N in the M state of the proton pumping photocycle did not affect the unfolding barriers of BR.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Atomic force microscopy (AFM) allows the observation of surface structures of purple membrane (PM) in buffer solution with subnanometer resolution. This offers the possibility to classify the major conformations of the native bacteriorhodopsin (BR) surfaces and to map the variability of individual polypeptide loops connecting transmembrane alpha-helices of BR. The position, the variability and the flexibility of these loops depend on the packing arrangement of BR molecules in the lipid bilayer with significant differences observed between the trigonal and orthorhombic crystal forms. Cleavage of the Schiff base bond leads to a disassembly of the trigonal PM crystal, which is restored by regenerating the bleached PM. The combination of single molecule AFM imaging and single molecule force-spectroscopy provides an unique insight into the interactions between individual BR molecules and the PM, and between secondary structure elements within BR.
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 09/2000; 1460(1):27-38. · 4.66 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Atomic force microscopy and single-molecule force spectroscopy were combined to image and manipulate purple membrane patches from Halobacterium salinarum. Individual bacteriorhodopsin molecules were first localized and then extracted from the membrane; the remaining vacancies were imaged again. Anchoring forces between 100 and 200 piconewtons for the different helices were found. Upon extraction, the helices were found to unfold. The force spectra revealed the individuality of the unfolding pathways. Helices G and F as well as helices E and D always unfolded pairwise, whereas helices B and C occasionally unfolded one after the other. Experiments with cleaved loops revealed the origin of the individuality: stabilization of helix B by neighboring helices.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The mechanical properties of native and denatured xanthan are measured
on the molecular scale using an AFM. The single molecule force spectra
of native and denatured xanthan show big differences. For ordered native
xanthan, a long plateau at around 400 pN is found, this transition is an
irreversible process. However, the plateau disappears for denatured
xanthan, only monotonic rising of the force versus extension is
observed. The big difference is consistent with the different
conformation of native and denatured xanthan. Native xanthan is assumed
to exist as an ordered double-stranded helix, however, denatured xanthan
is a disordered single strand. The irreversible transition process for
native xanthan is attributed to the splitting of the double-strand
Applied Physics A 03/1999; 68(4):407-410. · 1.55 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: AFM-based single-molecule force spectroscopy was employed to measure the nanomechanical properties of 1,4-linked polysaccharides. Single-molecule force spectroscopy clearly reflected the difference in the mechanical properties of α-(1,4)- and β-(1,4)-linked polysaccharides. A force-induced chair–twist boat conformational transition in α-(1,4)-linked polysaccharides was discovered. This chair–twist boat conformational transition is a nanomechanical fingerprint of α-(1,4)-linked polysaccharides.
Chemical Physics Letters 01/1999; · 2.15 Impact Factor