Techniques to measure pilus retraction forces

Nicolas Biais, Dustin Higashi, Magdalene So, Benoit Ladoux

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

20 Scopus citations


The importance of physical forces in biology is becoming more appreciated. Neisseria gonorrhoeaehas become a paradigm for the study of physical forces in the bacterial world. Cycles of elongations and retractions of Type IV pili enables N. gonorrhoeaebacteria to exert forces on its environment, forces that play major roles in the life cycle of this pathogen. In order to better understand the role of these forces, there is a need to fully characterize them. Here, we present two different techniques, optical tweezers and Polyacrylamide MicroPillars (PoMPs), for measuring pilus retraction forces. Initially designed for N. gonorrhoeae, these assays can be readily modified to study other pilus-bearing bacteria including Neisseria meningitidis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNeisseria meningitidis
Subtitle of host publicationAdvanced Methods and Protocols
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9781617793455
StatePublished - 2012

Publication series

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


  • Neisseria
  • Optical tweezer
  • PoMPs
  • Retraction force
  • Type IV pilus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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