Optical Pushing: A Tool for Parallelized Biomolecule Manipulation

G. Sitters, N. Laurens, E.J. de Rijk, H. Kress, E.J.G. Peterman, G.J.L. Wuite

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The ability to measure and manipulate single molecules has greatly advanced the field of biophysics. Yet, the addition of more single-molecule tools that enable one to measure in a parallel fashion is important to diversify the questions that can be addressed. Here we present optical pushing (OP), a single-molecule technique that is used to exert forces on many individual biomolecules tethered to microspheres using a single collimated laser beam. Forces ranging from a few femtoNewtons to several picoNewtons can be applied with a submillisecond response time. To determine forces exerted on the tethered particles by the laser, we analyzed their measured Brownian motion using, to our knowledge, a newly derived analytical model and numerical simulations. In the model, Brownian rotation of the microspheres is taken into account, which proved to be a critical component to correctly determine the applied forces. We used our OP technique to map the energy landscape of the protein-induced looping dynamics of DNA. OP can be used to apply loading rates in the range of 10
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-50
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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