Transverse Magnetic Tweezers Allowing Coincident Epifluorescence Microscopy on Horizontally Extended DNA

Stephen Cross, Claire Brown, Christoph Baumann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Longitudinal magnetic tweezers (L-MT) have seen wide-scale adoption as the tool-of-choice for stretching and twisting a single DNA molecule. They are also used to probe topological changes in DNA as a result of protein binding and enzymatic activity. However, in the longitudinal configuration, the DNA molecule is extended perpendicular to the imaging plane. As a result, it is only possible to infer biological activity from the motion of the tethered superparamagnetic microsphere. Described here is a “transverse” magnetic tweezers (T-MT) geometry featuring simultaneous control of DNA extension and spatially coincident video-rate epifluorescence imaging. Unlike in L-MT, DNA tethers in T-MT are extended parallel to the imaging plane between two micron-sized spheres, and importantly protein targets on the DNA can be localized using fluorescent nanoparticles. The T-MT can manipulate a long DNA construct at molecular extensions approaching the contour length defined by B-DNA helical geometry, and the measured entropic elasticity agrees with the worm-like chain model (force < 35 pN). By incorporating a torsionally constrained DNA tether, the T-MT would allow both the relative extension and twist of the tether to be manipulated, while viewing far-red emitting fluorophore-labeled targets. This T-MT design has the potential to enable the study of DNA binding and remodeling processes under conditions of constant force and defined torsional stress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-90
JournalMethods in Molecular Biology
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


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