High-speed photothermal off-resonance atomic force microscopy reveals assembly routes of centriolar scaffold protein SAS-6

The self-assembly of protein complexes is at the core of many fundamental biological processes1, ranging from the polymerization of cytoskeletal elements, such as microtubules2, to viral capsid formation and organelle assembly3. To reach a comprehensive understanding of the underlying mechanisms of self-assembly, high spatial and temporal resolutions must be attained. This is complicated by the need to not interfere with the reaction during the measurement. As self-assemblies are often governed by weak interactions, they are especially difficult to monitor with high-speed atomic force microscopy (HS-AFM) due to the non-negligible tip–sample interaction forces involved in current methods. We have developed a HS-AFM technique, photothermal off-resonance tapping (PORT), which is gentle enough to monitor self-assembly reactions driven by weak interactions. We apply PORT to dissect the self-assembly reaction of SAS-6 proteins, which form a nine-fold radially symmetric ring-containing structure that seeds the formation of the centriole organelle. Our analysis reveals the kinetics of SAS-6 ring formation and demonstrates that distinct biogenesis routes can be followed to assemble a nine-fold symmetrical structure.

Published in:
Nature Nanotechnology, 13, 8, 696-701
Aug 13 2018
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 Record created 2018-09-13, last modified 2019-05-07

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