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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Apr 3;109(14):5294-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1118472109. Epub 2012 Mar 19.

Fluorescence microscopy for simultaneous observation of 3D orientation and movement and its application to quantum rod-tagged myosin V.

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  • 1Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences, Osaka University, 1-3 Yamadaoka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.


Single molecule fluorescence polarization techniques have been used for three-dimensional (3D) orientation measurements to observe the dynamic properties of single molecules. However, only few techniques can simultaneously measure 3D orientation and position. Furthermore, these techniques often require complex equipment and cumbersome analysis. We have developed a microscopy system and synthesized highly fluorescent, rod-like shaped quantum dots (Q rods), which have linear polarizations, to simultaneously measure the position and 3D orientation of a single fluorescent probe. The optics splits the fluorescence from the probe into four different spots depending on the polarization angle and projects them onto a CCD camera. These spots are used to determine the 2D position and 3D orientation. Q rod orientations could be determined with better than 10° accuracy at 33 ms time resolution. We applied our microscopy and Q rods to simultaneously measure myosin V movement along an actin filament and rotation around its own axis, finding that myosin V rotates 90° for each step. From this result, we suggest that in the two-headed bound state, myosin V necks are perpendicular to one another, while in the one-headed bound state the detached trailing myosin V head is biased forward in part by rotating its lever arm about its own axis. This microscopy system should be applicable to a wide range of dynamic biological processes that depend on single molecule orientation dynamics.

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