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Genes Dev. 2011 Jun 15;25(12):1205-31. doi: 10.1101/gad.2050011.

Biological mechanisms, one molecule at a time.

Author information

  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley, USA.

Abstract

The last 15 years have witnessed the development of tools that allow the observation and manipulation of single molecules. The rapidly expanding application of these technologies for investigating biological systems of ever-increasing complexity is revolutionizing our ability to probe the mechanisms of biological reactions. Here, we compare the mechanistic information available from single-molecule experiments with the information typically obtained from ensemble studies and show how these two experimental approaches interface with each other. We next present a basic overview of the toolkit for observing and manipulating biology one molecule at a time. We close by presenting a case study demonstrating the impact that single-molecule approaches have had on our understanding of one of life's most fundamental biochemical reactions: the translation of a messenger RNA into its encoded protein by the ribosome.

PMID:
21685361
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3127425
Free PMC Article
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