Puling on single proteins and peptides

In the past most physical measurements were being done on many molecules at the same time, and the measurement results was therefore a so-called ensemble average. An important trend in especially molecular biophysis, is to do measurements on single molecules. If all molecules do exactly the same it is fine to just determine their average behavior, but as soon as molecules can choose beteen different types of behaviors, just measuring the average behavior will not tell you very much....At PCC one of the single-molecule techniques that we use is Atom Force Microscope (AFM)-based single molecule force spectroscopy. We chemically connect a few peptides or proteins to the tip of an AFM to measure the force by which they stick to a surface. The project of Fabiola (Post-doc) focuses on silica-binding peptides and proteins. These are of interest in the protein materials group for two reasons: protein-mineral interactions are crucially important for understanding protein-mineral composites such as bone, and secondly, we can exploit them in technological applications such as biosensors for sticking stuff to (for example) silica surfaces. The single molecule force spectroscopy measurements are challenging experiments that require skills, patience, perseverance, and an interest in number crunching (to work on the big data sets that the experiments generate). They are rewarded by the experience of being able to tweak single molecules....

Techniques: Atomic Force Microscopy imaging in liquid, Atomic Force Microscope-based force spectroscopy, Quartz Crystal Microbalance, Bioconjugation chemistry, Working with large datasets (with for example MatLab).