Leveraging single protein polymers to measure flexural rigidity.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The micrometer-scale length of some protein polymers allows them to be mechanically manipulated in single-molecule experiments. This provides a direct way to measure persistence length. We have used a double optical trap to elastically deform single microtubules and actin filaments. Axial extensional force was exerted on beads attached laterally to the filaments. Because the attachments are off the line of force, pulling the beads apart couples to local bending of the filament. We present a simple mechanical model for the resulting highly nonlinear elastic response of the dumbbell construct. The flexural rigidities of the microfilaments that were found by fitting the model to the experimentally observed force-distance curves are (7.1 +/- 0.8) x 10(4) pN nm2 (persistence length L(p) = 17.2 microm) for F-actin and (6.1 +/- 1.3) x 10(6) pN nm2 (L(p) = 1.4 mm) for microtubules.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • van Mameren, J; Vermeulen, KC; Gittes, F; Schmidt, CF

Published Date

  • March 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 113 / 12

Start / End Page

  • 3837 - 3844

PubMed ID

  • 19673071

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1520-5207

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1520-6106

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1021/jp808328a


  • eng