Biomolecular systems investigated at the highest resolution at the University of Leeds

Bruker’s Nano Surfaces Division reports on the groundbreaking use of a Dimension FastScan Bio™ AFM system at the University of Leeds, UK, to investigate biological and biomolecular systems at the highest resolution. Neil Thomson’s group, associated with the University’s Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology, has utilized the system’s high-speed scanning, exceptional force control and high-resolution performance to characterize DNA systems, such as DNA-protein interactions and DNA origami structures, in ways that were not previously possible with other instrumentation.

Furthermore, Simon Connell’s team in the School of Physics and Astronomy, where the instrument is based, has characterized the temperature-dependent dynamic behavior of critical biomimetic lipid membranes.

The FastScan Bio AFM has improved performance over conventional AFMs, as we have achieved resolution close to the helical repeat of the DNA strands that make up the origami nanotiles,” explained Professor Neil Thomson. “The smaller FastScan probes and high stability of this AFM platform are key to obtaining high-resolution imaging under liquid. This improved resolution is helping us answer questions about the formation and stability of DNA origami for future nanomaterials applications.

“The higher speed and stability of the FastScan Bio gives us the first direct insight into membrane nano-domain dynamics,” added Dr. Simon Connell. “The movies we capture of motion in model cell membranes under increasing temperature let us quantify domain line tensions and observe the breakdown of large lipid domains into much smaller nanoscale fluctuations. We can now directly correlate domain lifetime with size at and above the critical temperature.”

“Bruker has spent considerable effort to bring the performance and speed benefits of our FastScan platform to life science applications,” explained Marco Tortonese, Ph.D., Vice President and General Manager of Bruker’s AFM Instrumentation Business. “The FastScan Bio’s combination of resolution and productivity enables more groups like those at the University of Leeds to observe biological functions at AFM spatial resolution, ultimately increasing the pace of biological discovery.”

About Dimension FastScan Bio

The Dimension FastScan Bio system utilizes a revolutionary XYZ scanner designed to operate at high-speed rates while delivering extremely low drift and low noise. Together with its large XYZ scan range, this enables high-resolution and high-speed imaging of both molecular and cellular dynamic processes.

The system’s innovative user interface, including automated laser and detector alignment, feature-tracking capabilities with NanoTrackTM, and real-time data analysis with MovieMakerTM, not only reduces the complexity of the experimental setup, it also dramatically increases the success to acquiring biologically impactful data.

Other accessories include a micro-volume flow cell for controlled fluid exchange, as well as a sample stage heater for conducting studies at physiologically relevant temperatures. With the FastScan Bio, productive temporal, high-resolution nanometer-scale research is a reality for every bio researcher.

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