Enhanced tethered-particle motion analysis reveals viscous effects

Kumar S., Manzo C., Zurla C., ÜÇÜNCÜOĞLU S., Finzi L., Dunlap D.

Biophysical Journal, vol.106, no.2, pp.399-409, 2014 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 106 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.bpj.2013.11.4501
  • Journal Name: Biophysical Journal
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.399-409
  • Istanbul Medipol University Affiliated: No


Tethered-particle motion experiments do not require expensive or technically complex hardware, and increasing numbers of researchers are adopting this methodology to investigate the topological effects of agents that act on the tethering polymer or the characteristics of the polymer itself. These investigations depend on accurate measurement and interpretation of changes in the effective length of the tethering polymer (often DNA). However, the bead size, tether length, and buffer affect the confined diffusion of the bead in this experimental system. To evaluate the effects of these factors, improved measurements to calibrate the two-dimensional range of motion (excursion) versus DNA length were carried out. Microspheres of 160 or 240 nm in radius were tethered by DNA molecules ranging from 225 to 3477 basepairs in length in aqueous buffers containing 100 mM potassium glutamate and 8 mM MgCl2 or 10 mM Tris-HCl and 200 mM KCl, with or without 0.5% Tween added to the buffer, and the motion was recorded. Different buffers altered the excursion of beads on identical DNA tethers. Buffer with only 10 mM NaCl and >5 mM magnesium greatly reduced excursion. Glycerol added to increase viscosity slowed confined diffusion of the tethered beads but did not change excursion. The confined-diffusion coefficients for all tethered beads were smaller than those expected for freely diffusing beads and decreased for shorter tethers. Tethered-particle motion is a sensitive framework for diffusion experiments in which small beads on long leashes most closely resemble freely diffusing, untethered beads. © 2014 Biophysical Society.