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J Biol Phys. 2012 Jan;38(1):113-20. doi: 10.1007/s10867-011-9237-5. Epub 2011 Sep 9.

Force field measurements within the exclusion zone of water.

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Bioengineering, University of California, Merced, CA USA.


Water molecules play critical roles in many biological functions, such as protein dynamics, enzymatic activities, and cellular responses. Previous nuclear magnetic resonance and neutron scattering studies have shown that water molecules bind to specific sites on surfaces and form localized clusters. However, most current experimental techniques cannot measure dynamic behaviors of ordered water molecules on cell-size (10 μm) scale. Recently, the long-distance effect of structured water has been demonstrated by Pollack and his colleagues. Namely, there is a structured water layer near the hydrophilic surface that can exclude solutes (Zheng et al, Adv Colloid Interface Sci 127:19-27, 2006; Pollack 2006, Adv Colloid Interface Sci 103:173-196, 2003). The repelling forces of water clusters inside this exclusion region are investigated in this study. With a laser tweezers system, we found the existence of an unexpected force fields inside the solute-free exclusion zone near a Nafion surface. Our results suggest that the water clusters could transduce mechanical signals on the micrometer range within the exclusion zone. This unexpected inhomogeneous force field near the hydrophilic surface would provide a new insight into cellular activities, leading to a potential new physical chemistry mechanism for cell biology.


Exclusion zone; Laser tweezers; Nafion; Water

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