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Subcell Biochem. 2007;43:301-21.

Systems nanobiology: from quantitative single molecule biophysics to microfluidic-based single cell analysis.

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  • 1Experimental Biophysics and Applied Nanoscience, Physics Faculty, Bielefeld University, Germany.


Detailed and quantitative information about structure-function relation, concentrations and interaction kinetics of biological molecules and subcellular components is a key prerequisite to understand and model cellular organisation and temporal dynamics. In systems nanobi-ology, cellular processes are quantitatively investigated at the sensitivity level of single molecules and cells. This approach provides direct access to biomolecular information without being statistically ensemble-averaged, their associated distribution functions, and possible subpopulations. Moreover at the single cell level, the interplay of regulated genomic information and proteomic variabilities can be investigated and attributed to functional peculiarities. These requirements necessitate the development of novel and ultrasensitive methods and instruments for single molecule detection, microscopy and spectroscopy for analysis without the need of amplification and preconcentration. In this chapter, we present three methodological applications that demonstrate how quantitative informations can be accessed that are representative for cellular processes or single cell analysis like gene expression regulation, intracellular protein translocation dynamics, and single cell protein fingerprinting. First, the interaction kinetics of transcriptionally regulated DNA-protein interaction can be quantitatively investigated with single molecule force spectroscopy allowing a molecular affinity ranking. Second, intracellular protein dynamics for a transcription regulator migrating form the nucleus to the cytoplasm can be quantitatively monitored by photoactivable GFP and two-photon laser scanning microscopy. And third, a microfluidic-based method for label-free single cell proteomics and fingerprinting and first label-free single cell electropherograms are presented which include the manipulation and steering of single cells in a microfluidic device.

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