In a second paper published in the Nov. 8 online issue of the journal Physical Review Letters, the scientists offer a detailed description of their novel device, an advanced version of the "optical trap," which uses infrared light to trap and control the forces on a functional protein, allowing researchers to monitor the molecule's every move in real time.
"In the Nature experiment, we carried out the highest-resolution measurement ever made of an individual protein," says Steven Block, professor of applied physics and of biological sciences. "We obtained measurements accurate to one angstrom, or one-tenth of a nanometer. That's a distance equivalent to the diameter of a single hydrogen atom, and about 10 times finer than any previous such measurement."
Block co-authored the papers in Nature and Physical Review Letters with three current members of his Stanford Lab--graduate students Elio Abbondanzieri and William Greenleaf and postdoctoral fellow Michael Woodside--together with former graduate student Joshua Shaevitz, now at the University of California-Berkeley, and longtime collaborator Robert Landick at the University of Wisconsin.
In the Nature study, Block and his colleagues tackled a fundamental principal of biology known as the central dogma, which states that in living organisms, genetic information flows from DNA to RNA to proteins.
The process begins with DNA, the famous double helix, which stores genetic data. DNA is often compared to a twisted ladder co
Contact: Mark Shwartz