Optical Trapping and Unfolding of RNA

Katherine H. White, Koen Visscher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Optical tweezers have proven a useful tool for exploring the structure and function of individual molecules, such as proteins, DNA, and RNA. The ability to unfold and refold biological molecules has provided novel insights that complement and go beyond traditional biochemical and structural approaches. With sophisticated optical tweezers instrumentation coming to the market, single-molecule stretching studies now have become feasible and available to a wide range of users. Therefore, a step-by-step protocol for stretching individual biomolecules utilizing a simple experimental geometry is timely and presented here. While we have taken the unfolding of an RNA structure held between two RNA/DNA hybrid handles as an example, the technical protocol should be readily applicable to other biomolecules and may serve as a starting point for more sophisticated experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSingle Molecule Analysis
Subtitle of host publicationMethods and Protocols
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages23
ISBN (Print)9781617792816
StatePublished - 2011

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745
ISSN (Electronic)1940-6029


  • Optical tweezers
  • RNA pseudoknot
  • RNA unfolding
  • Single molecule

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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