Single-cell force spectroscopy of bacteria enabled by naturally derived proteins

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  • Guanghong Zeng, Denmark
  • Torsten Müller, JPK Instruments AG
  • ,
  • Rikke L Meyer
Bringing the study of bacterial adhesion down to a single-cell level is critical for understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in initial bacterial attachment. We have developed a simple and versatile method for making single-cell bacterial probes to study the adhesion of single bacterial cells by atomic force microscopy (AFM). A single-cell probe was made by picking up a bacterial cell from a glass surface using a tipless AFM cantilever coated with a commercial cell adhesive Cell-Tak. The method was applied to four different bacterial strains, and single-cell adhesion was measured on three surfaces (fresh glass, hydrophilic glass, and mica). Attachment to the cantilever was stable during the AFM force measurements that were conducted for 2 h, and viability was confirmed by Live/Dead fluorescence staining at the end of each experiment. The adhesion force and final rupture length were dependent on bacterial strains, surfaces properties, and contact time. The single-cell probe offers control of cell immobilization and thus holds advantages over the commonly used multicell probes with which random immobilization is obtained by submerging the cantilever in a bacterial suspension. The reported method provides a general platform for investigating single-cell interactions of bacteria with different surfaces and other cells by AFM force spectroscopy, thus improving our understanding of the mechanisms of bacterial attachment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLangmuir
Volume30
Issue14
Pages (from-to)4019-25
Number of pages7
ISSN0743-7463
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2014

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