Cryo-force spectroscopy reveals the mechanical properties of DNA components2019, News
Physicists from the University of Basel have developed a new method to examine the elasticity and binding properties of DNA molecules on a surface at extremely low temperatures. With a combination of cryo-force spectroscopy and computer simulations, they were able to show that DNA molecules behave like a chain of small coil springs. The researchers reported their findings in Nature Communications.
Computer simulations clarify that the DNA is detached discontinuously from the surface. This is due to the breaking up of bonds between the cytosine bases and the DNA backbone from the gold surface, and their abrupt movements over the gold surface. The theoretical elasticity values correlate very closely with the experiments and confirm the model of serially arranged springs.
Snapshots provide insight
The studies confirm that cryo-force spectroscopy is very well suited to examining the forces, elasticity and binding properties of DNA strands on surfaces at low temperatures.
“As with cryogenic electron microscopy, we take a snapshot with cryo-force spectroscopy, which gives us an insight into the properties of DNA,” explains Meyer. “In future, we could also make use of scanning probe microscope images to determine nucleotide sequences.”
Rémy Pawlak, Guilherme Vilhena, Antoine Hinaut, Tobias Meier, Thilo Glatzel, Alexis Baratoff, Enrico Gnecco, Ruben Perez, and Ernst Meyer
Conformations and cryo-force spectroscopy of spray-deposited single-strand DNA on gold
Nature Communications (2019), doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-08531-4