Send to

Choose Destination
Nucleic Acids Res. 1996 Feb 15;24(4):713-20.

Atomic force microscopy of long and short double-stranded, single-stranded and triple-stranded nucleic acids.

Author information

Department of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, 93106, USA.


Atomic force microscopy (AFM, also called scanning force microscopy) is proving to be a useful technique for imaging DNA. Thus it is important to push the limits of AFM imaging in order to explore both what types of DNA can be reliably imaged and identified and also what substrates and methods of sample preparation are suitable. The following advances in AFM of DNA are presented here. (i) DNA molecules as short as 25 bases can be seen by AFM. The short single-stranded DNAs imaged here (25 and 50 bases long) appeared globular in the AFM, perhaps because they are all capable of intramolecular base pairing and because the DNAs were in a Mg(ll) buffer, which facilitates intramolecular cross-bridging. (ii) AFM images in air of short double-stranded DNA molecules, 100-200 bp, gave lengths consistent with A-DNA. (iii) AFM images of poly (A) show both short bent lumpy molecules with an apparent persistence length of 40 nm and long straight molecules with an apparent persistence length of 600 nm. For comparison, the apparent persistence length for double-stranded DNA from phX-174 under the same conditions was 80 nm. (iv) Structures believed to be triple- stranded DNA were seen in samples of poly(dA.poly(dT) and poly (dG).poly(dC). These structures were twice as high as double-stranded DNA and the same width. (v) Entire molecules of lambda DNA, approx. 16 micron long, were imaged clearly in overlapping scans. (vi) Plasmid DNA was imaged on oxidized silicon, although less clearly than on mica.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center