Magnetic trap construction.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Cold Spring Harbor protocols, Volume 2012, Issue 1, p.133-8 (2012)




Biotin; Digoxigenin; DNA; Magnetics; Microspheres; Nanotechnology


In recent years, techniques have been developed to study and manipulate single molecules of DNA and other biopolymers. In one such technique, the magnetic trap, a single DNA molecule is bound at one end to a glass surface and at the other to a magnetic microbead. Small magnets, whose position and rotation can be controlled, pull on and rotate the microbead. This provides a simple method to stretch and twist the molecule. The system allows one to apply and measure forces ranging from 10(-3) to >100 picoNewtons (pN). In contrast to other techniques, the force measurement is absolute and does not require calibration of the sensor. This protocol describes a procedure for building and using a magnetic trap. It gives a method for constructing a microchamber suitable for magnetic tweezers studies, including antibody coating and passivation. It also describes a series of simple steps to achieve end-labeling of DNA anchoring fragments. One anchoring fragment is biotin-labeled and the other is labeled with digoxigenin. The anchoring fragments are then digested and ligated to a central DNA region containing the sequence of interest. The biotinylated DNA is adsorbed onto streptavidin-coated magnetic beads, and the DNA-bead mixture attaches specifically to the antidigoxigenin-coated surface of the microchamber.

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