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Research Zernike (ZIAM) News Seminars

Felix Rico: Molecular to cellular mechanics probed by atomic force microscopy

When:Mo 21-03-2016 14:00 - 15:00

The mechanical properties of individual proteins, protein complexes and filaments, and other supramolecular assemblies provide structural stability and flexibility to the living cell, which crucial in processes such as cell migration, adhesion and tissue development. Thus, knowing the mechanics from the single molecule to the whole cell is important to understand biological function. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a unique technology that combines nanometric imaging capabilities and mechanical measurements. However, AFM is often limited to millisecond time scales, while many biological processes occur faster. In this talk, I will present the application of high-speed AFM in force spectroscopy mode to probe protein and cellular mechanics at high rates. In the first part, I will present the development and application of high-speed force spectroscopy (HS-FS) to unfold single proteins and probe receptor/ligand bonds at the speeds of molecular dynamics simulations. In the second part, I will show recent results on the viscoelastic response of living cells at high frequencies. We propose HS-FS as a novel tool to access new biophysical regimes relevant in biological function.