Nanoplasmonic Tweezers Visualize Protein p53 Suppressing Unzipping of Single DNA-Hairpins

Research paper by Abhay Kotnala, Reuven Gordon

Indexed on: 16 Mar '14Published on: 16 Mar '14Published in: Physics - Biological Physics


Here we report on the use of double-nanohole (DNH) optical tweezers as a label-free and free-solution single-molecule probe for protein-DNA interactions. Using this approach, we demonstrate the unzipping of individual 10 base pair DNA-hairpins, and quantify how tumor suppressor p53 protein delays the unzipping. From the Arrhenius behavior, we find the energy barrier to unzipping introduced by p53 to be $2\times 10^{-20}$ J, whereas cys135ser mutant p53 does not show suppression of unzipping, which gives clues to its functional inability to suppress tumor growth. This transformative approach to single molecule analysis allows for ultra-sensitive detection and quantification of protein-DNA interactions to revolutionize the fight against genetic diseases.