Indexed on: 19 Dec '17Published on: 19 Dec '17Published in: Biophysical Journal
Single-molecule methods provide direct measurements of macromolecular dynamics, but are limited by the number of degrees of freedom that can be followed at one time. High-resolution rotor bead tracking (RBT) measures DNA torque, twist, and extension, and can be used to characterize the structural dynamics of DNA and diverse nucleoprotein complexes. Here, we extend RBT to enable simultaneous monitoring of additional degrees of freedom. Fluorescence-RBT (FluoRBT) combines magnetic tweezers, infrared evanescent scattering, and single-molecule FRET imaging, providing real-time multiparameter measurements of complex molecular processes. We demonstrate the capabilities of FluoRBT by conducting simultaneous measurements of extension and FRET during opening and closing of a DNA hairpin under tension, and by observing simultaneous changes in FRET and torque during a transition between right-handed B-form and left-handed Z-form DNA under controlled supercoiling. We discover unanticipated continuous changes in FRET with applied torque, and also show how FluoRBT can facilitate high-resolution FRET measurements of molecular states, by using a mechanical signal as an independent temporal reference for aligning and averaging noisy fluorescence data. By combining mechanical measurements of global DNA deformations with FRET measurements of local conformational changes, FluoRBT will enable multidimensional investigations of systems ranging from DNA structures to large macromolecular machines.