About this Research Topic
All processes in life are dictated and directed by molecular interactions. Therefore, progress in measuring and imaging such interactions at the single-molecule level continues to provide new insights into the complexity of life. Force sensitivity and resolution of modern atomic force microscopes (AFM) enable topography, dynamics, and nanomechanical properties of single proteins to be assessed in the cellular context. Recent advancements in single-molecule force spectroscopy have opened the possibility to quantify and structurally localize interactions that fold, stabilize and control the functional state of membrane proteins in lipid or cellular membranes under physiological conditions. Single cell adhesion, single cell growth, and single cell nanomechanics can all be monitored quantitatively with unprecedented resolution. These measurements will enhance our understanding of mechanotransduction, which is key in regulating cellular morphology. Additionally, it transpires that changes in the nanomechanical properties of a cell may indicate the onset of malignancy at an early stage.
On-going developments in AFM technology provide new imaging modes that enable the acquisition of multiple parameters of the addressed biological structure. Furthermore, AFM can achieve unprecedented time resolution for monitoring protein dynamics. Multifunctional hollow cantilevers have been designed for delivery or extraction of biomolecules to/from single cells. Methods to functionalize the tip with specific ligands is widely used to probe interactions between biomolecules and to map receptors on cell surfaces.
We aim to collect original research articles, methods papers, perspectives or reviews focused on the application and recent advancements of scanning probe microscopies and related methods in biology.
Keywords: AFM, protein dynamics, single molecule force spectroscopy, cell mass, cellular nanomechanics
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