Optical manipulation of single molecules in the living cell

Kamilla Norregaard, Liselotte Jauffred, Kirstine Berg-Sørensen, Lene B. Oddershede

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Optical tweezers are the only nano-tools capable of manipulating and performing force-measurements on individual molecules and organelles within the living cell without performing destructive penetration through the cell wall and without the need for inserting a non-endogenous probe. Here, we describe how optical tweezers are used to manipulate individual molecules and perform accurate force and distance measurements within the complex cytoplasm of the living cell. Optical tweezers can grab individual molecules or organelles, if their optical contrast to the medium is large enough, as is the case, e. g., for lipid granules or chromosomes. However, often the molecule of interest is specifically attached to a handle manipulated by the optical trap. The most commonly used handles, their insertion into the cytoplasm, and the relevant micro-rheology of the cell are discussed here and we also review recent and exciting results achieved through optical force manipulation of individual molecules in vivo.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number25
Pages (from-to)12614-12624
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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