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Is the mechanical unraveling of protein domains by atomic force microscopy (AFM) just a technological feat or a true measurement of their unfolding? By engineering a protein made of tandem repeats of identical Ig modules, we were able to get explicit AFM data on the unfolding rate of a single protein domain that can be accurately extrapolated to zero force.(More)
The modular protein titin, which is responsible for the passive elasticity of muscle, is subjected to stretching forces. Previous work on the experimental elongation of single titin molecules has suggested that force causes consecutive unfolding of each domain in an all-or-none fashion. To avoid problems associated with the heterogeneity of the modular,(More)
Extracellular matrix proteins are thought to provide a rigid mechanical anchor that supports and guides migrating and rolling cells. Here we examine the mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix protein tenascin by using atomic-force-microscopy techniques. Our results indicate that tenascin is an elastic protein. Single molecules of tenascin could(More)
The unfolding and folding of single protein molecules can be studied with an atomic force microscope (AFM). Many proteins with mechanical functions contain multiple, individually folded domains with similar structures. Protein engineering techniques have enabled the construction and expression of recombinant proteins that contain multiple copies of(More)
Through the study of single molecules it has become possible to explain the function of many of the complex molecular assemblies found in cells. The protein titin provides muscle with its passive elasticity. Each titin molecule extends over half a sarcomere, and its extensibility has been studied both in situ and at the level of single molecules. These(More)
We use single-protein atomic force microscopy techniques to detect length phenotypes in an Ig module. To gain amino acid resolution, we amplify the mechanical features of a single module by engineering polyproteins composed of up to 12 identical repeats. We show that on mechanical unfolding, mutant polyproteins containing five extra glycine residues added(More)
Immunoglobulin-like modules are common components of proteins that play mechanical roles in cells such as muscle elasticity and cell adhesion. Mutations in these proteins may affect their mechanical stability and thus may compromise their function. Using single molecule atomic force microscopy (AFM) and protein engineering, we demonstrate that point(More)
Ankyrin repeats are an amino-acid motif believed to function in protein recognition; they are present in tandem copies in diverse proteins in nearly all phyla. Ankyrin repeats contain antiparallel alpha-helices that can stack to form a superhelical spiral. Visual inspection of the extrapolated structure of 24 ankyrin-R repeats indicates the possibility of(More)
Ubiquitin chains are formed through the action of a set of enzymes that covalently link ubiquitin either through peptide bonds or through isopeptide bonds between their C terminus and any of four lysine residues. These naturally occurring polyproteins allow one to study the mechanical stability of a protein, when force is applied through different linkages.(More)
Using single protein atomic force microscopy (AFM) techniques we demonstrate that after repeated mechanical extension/relaxation cycles, tandem modular proteins can misfold into a structure formed by two neighboring modules. The misfolding is fully reversible and alters the mechanical topology of the modules while it is about as stable as the original fold.(More)