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During unequal cell divisions a mitotic spindle is eccentrically positioned before cell cleavage. To determine the basis of the net force imbalance that causes spindle displacement in one-cell Caenorhabditis elegans embryos, we fragmented centrosomes with an ultraviolet laser. Analysis of the mean and variance of fragment speeds suggests that the force(More)
Friction limits the operation of macroscopic engines and is critical to the performance of micromechanical devices. We report measurements of friction in a biological nanomachine. Using optical tweezers, we characterized the frictional drag force of individual kinesin-8 motor proteins interacting with their microtubule tracks. At low speeds and with no(More)
In vitro assays that reconstitute the dynamic behavior of microtubules provide insight into the roles of microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) in regulating the growth, shrinkage, and catastrophe of microtubules. The use of total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy with fluorescently labeled tubulin and MAPs has allowed us to study microtubule(More)
Optical tweezers are widely used to measure molecular forces in biology. Such measurements are often influenced by a nearby surface that can perturb both the calibration of the tweezers as well as the hydrodynamic forces acting on microspheres to which the biomolecules are attached. In this study, we have used a very stable optical tweezers setup employing(More)
We explain and demonstrate a new method of force-and position-calibration for optical tweez-ers with back-focal-plane photo detection. The method combines power spectral measurements of thermal motion and the response to a sinusoidal motion of a translation stage. It consequently does not use the drag coefficient of the trapped object as an input. Thus,(More)
The generation of pulling and pushing forces is one of the important functions of microtubules, which are dynamic and polarized structures. The ends of dynamic microtubules are able to form relatively stable links to cellular structures, so that when a microtubule grows it can exert a pushing force and when it shrinks it can exert a pulling force.(More)
In many applications high-resolution video-enhanced differential interference contrast microscopy is used to visualize and track the ends of single microtubules. We show that single ultrabright light emitting diodes from Luxeon can be used to replace conventional light sources for these kinds of applications without loss of function. We measured the(More)
The use of optical traps to measure or apply forces on the molecular level requires a precise knowledge of the trapping force field. Close to the trap center, this field is typically approximated as linear in the displacement of the trapped microsphere. However, applications demanding high forces at low laser intensities can probe the light-microsphere(More)
During the cell cycle, kinesin-8s control the length of microtubules by interacting with their plus ends. To reach these ends, the motors have to be able to take many steps without dissociating. However, the underlying mechanism for this high processivity and how stepping is affected by force are unclear. Here, we tracked the motion of yeast (Kip3) and(More)
In an optical trap, micron-sized dielectric particles are held by a tightly focused laser beam. The optical force on the particle is composed of an attractive gradient force and a destabilizing scattering force. We hypothesized that using anti-reflection-coated microspheres would reduce scattering and lead to stronger trapping. We found that homogeneous(More)