Observing molecular properties and conformational changes occurring at the single-molecule level leads to a more comprehensive understanding of complex biological processes and enable the characterization of the behavior of individual molecules inside living cells.
Single-molecule manipulation and imaging techniques are transforming our understanding of cell biology. These powerful tools provide invaluable insights into cellular processes and the kinetics of biomolecular interactions in living cells. Single-molecule mechanical techniques have been developed that use smallest forces to manipulate individual biomolecules so that molecular mechanisms and structural and dynamic properties, e.g. protein unfolding, can be investigated at nanometer resolution.
Single-molecule force spectroscopy (SMFS) is a technique that directly probes the structural changes of macromolecules under the influence of mechanical force. It can be used to study biological functions at the single molecule level, e.g. the conformational changes and force-generation of individual motor proteins or force-dependent kinetics in molecular interactions.
AFM and Optical Tweezers are two techniques so far that allows observation of biological molecules.