Scientists can use optical tweezers to trap beads, as depicted at the right, and catch a filament in between. This filament can then be manipulated by moving the beads, while the force and extension are measured. Combining optical tweezers with simultaneous fluorescence measurements allows correlating the mechanical properties of the microtubule with local information. With optical tweezers – fluorescence microscopy you can:
- Observe microtubule dynamics in real time. Measure the force, speed, distance, conversion rate of filament growth and shrinkage, and obtain direction in 3D as well as growth angles of single-microtubules.
- Study filament dynamics and motor motion at different ATP, salt, small molecule, and biologics concentrations within a single experiment.
- Perform experiments under biologically relevant conditions and highly crowded environments and link the in vitro experiment with the in vivo situation
- Study the effect of small molecules and biologics in filament structure and dynamics.