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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2005 Jun;8(3):344-9.

Using laser tweezers to measure twitching motility in Neisseria.

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Department für Physik, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1, 80539 München, Germany.


Dynamic properties of type IV pili are essential for their function in bacterial infection, twitching motility and gene transfer. Laser tweezers are versatile tools to study the molecular mechanism underlying pilus dynamics at the single molecule level. Recently, these optical tweezers have been used to monitor pilus elongation and retraction in vivo at a resolution of several nanometers. The force generated by type IV pili exceeds 100 pN making pili the strongest linear motors characterized to date. The study of pilus dynamics at the single molecule level sheds light on kinetics, force generation, switching and mechanics of the Neisseria gonorrhoeae pilus motor.

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