Vanzi F, Takagi Y, Shuman H, Cooperman BS, Goldman YE.
Biophys J. 2005 Sep;89(3):1909-19.
Methodology was developed for specifically anchoring Escherichia coli 70S ribosomes onto a chemically modified, cysteine-reactive glass surface. Immobilized ribosomes maintain the capability of binding a polyuridylic acid (poly(U)) template, enabling investigation of mechanical properties of individual ribosome-poly(U) complexes using laser tweezers. Streptavidin-coated polystyrene microspheres bound specifically to the biotinylated 3' end of long (up to 10,000 bases) poly(U) strands. A novel optical method was built to control the position of the laser trap along the microscope optical axis at 2 nm resolution, facilitating measurement of the force-extension relationship for poly(U). Some immobilized ribosome-poly(U) complexes supported 100 pN of force applied at the 3' end of the mRNA. Binding of N-acetylated Phe-tRNA(Phe), an analog of the initiator fMet-tRNA(Met), enhanced the population of complexes that could withstand high forces. The persistence length of poly(U) RNA homopolymer, modeled as a worm-like chain, was found to be 0.79 +/- 0.05 nm and the backbone elasticity was 900 +/- 140 pN, similar to values for single-stranded DNA.