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Imaging and three-dimensional reconstruction of chemical groups inside a protein complex using atomic force microscopy
  • Published Date:
    February 09 2015
  • Source:
    Nat Nanotechnol. 10(3):264-269
  • Language:
Filetype[PDF-738.43 KB]

  • Alternative Title:
    Nat Nanotechnol
  • Description:
    Scanning probe microscopes can be used to image and chemically characterize surfaces down to the atomic scale. However, the localized tip-sample interactions in scanning probe microscopes limit high-resolution images to the topmost atomic layer of surfaces, and characterizing the inner structures of materials and biomolecules is a challenge for such instruments. Here, we show that an atomic force microscope can be used to image and three-dimensionally reconstruct chemical groups inside a protein complex. We use short single-stranded DNAs as imaging labels that are linked to target regions inside a protein complex, and T-shaped atomic force microscope cantilevers functionalized with complementary probe DNAs allow the labels to be located with sequence specificity and subnanometre resolution. After measuring pairwise distances between labels, we reconstruct the three-dimensional structure formed by the target chemical groups within the protein complex using simple geometric calculations. Experiments with the biotin-streptavidin complex show that the predicted three-dimensional loci of the carboxylic acid groups of biotins are within 2 Å of their respective loci in the corresponding crystal structure, suggesting that scanning probe microscopes could complement existing structural biological techniques in solving structures that are difficult to study due to their size and complexity.

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