Making movies of biomolecules

’tis the season for recycling news; this research about making biomolecular movies was published in Nature Protocols in June 2012 according to the Jan. 4, 2013 news item on phys.org (Note: Links have been removed),

Toshio Ando and co-workers at Kanazawa University [Japan] have developed and used HS-AFM [high-speed atomic force microscopy] to increase our understanding of several protein systems through microscopic movies of unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution. The team have now published a guide to video recording these important cell components, so that other researchers can benefit from this unique technology.

To produce an image, HS-AFM acquires information on sample height at many points by tapping the sample with the sharp tip of a tiny cantilever. Depending on the application, this might involve recording the amplitude and phase of oscillations, or the resonant frequency of the cantilever.

Ando and co-workers use very small cantilevers that afford 10 to 20 times the sensitivity of larger, conventional cantilevers. Copies of their home-made apparatus are now commercially available through the manufacturer Research Institute of Biomolecule Metrology Co., Ltd. (RIBM) in Tsukuba, and record images at least ten times more quickly than their competitors.

There are more details in the news item or for those who want to read the guide, here’s a citation and a link,

Guide to video recording of structure dynamics and dynamic processes of proteins by high-speed atomic force microscopy by Takayuki Uchihashi, Noriyuki Kodera, & Toshio Ando in Nature Protocols 7 (6), 1193–1206 (2012) doi:10.1038/nprot.2012.047

This article is behind a paywall.

Lastly, should anyone wish to purchase the apparatus developed at Kanazawa University from the Research Institute of Biomolecule Metrology Co., Ltd., here’s more about it from the company’s home page,

Dynamic Visualization of nano-scale world

HS-AFM*1.0 – Ando model – is the High-Speed Atomic Force Microscope which was developed based on the research achievements accomplished by Prof. Ando in Kanazawa University. This is the world’s first instrument that broke through the weak point of conventional AFM “low-speed”, and realized the video rate scan. The high-speed scan enables us to capture swinging molecules in solution clearly without blurring. Consequently, the strong anchoring of a sample to the substrate is unnecessary and a dynamic observation is achieved without losing the activities of soft biomolecules.

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