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Methods Mol Biol. 2018;1837:147-160. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-8675-0_9.

Atomic Force Microscopy Imaging and Analysis of Prokaryotic Genome Organization.

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Faculty of Medicine, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.
Center for Biotechnology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.
Department of Bacteriology, Osaka Dental University, Hirakata, Osaka, Japan.
Center for Biotechnology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.
Graduate School of Biostudies, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.


This protocol describes the application of atomic force microscopy for structural analysis of the prokaryotic and organellar nucleoids. It is based on a simple cell manipulation procedure that enables step-wise dissection of the nucleoid. The procedure includes (1) on-substrate-lysis of cells, and (2) enzyme treatment, followed by atomic force microscopy. This type of dissection analysis permits analysis of nucleoid structure ranging from the fundamental units assembled on DNA to higher order levels of organization. The combination with molecular-genetic and biochemical techniques further permits analysis of the functions of key nucleoid factors relevant to signal-induced structural re-organization or building up of basic structures, as seen for Dps in Escherichia coli, and TrmBL2 in Thermococcus kodakarensis. These systems are described here as examples of the successful application of AFM for this purpose. Moreover, we describe the procedures needed for quantitative analysis of the data.


Atomic force microscopy; Data analysis; Nucleoid structure; On-substrate lysis; Reconstitution of nucleoid

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