Open Access
AFM and fluorescence imaging of nanomechanical response in periodontal ligament cells
Liang Shi1,Shenggen Shi1,Jing Li1,Quanmei Sun1,Kai Feng1,Peipei Chen1,Shaoyan Si1,Long Chen1,Ye Li1,Ping Dang1,Chuhua Tang1,Dong Han1
Lab for Biological Imaging and Nanomedicine, National Center for Nanoscience and Technology, Beijing 100190, China
DOI: 10.2741/E161 Volume 2 Issue 3, pp.1028-1041
Published: 01 June 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atomic force microscopy in biology)

Most biologists think that AFM has only a limited use in biological research due to its inability to study other than surface structures. Therefore, a BIO-AFM system has been developed to combine both AFM imaging and fluorescence detection, which acts as a powerful tool for a better understanding of dynamic cell processes. In this study, based on a custom-made BIO-AFM system, the elasticity and ultrastructure of living periodontal ligament cells (PDLCs) were investigated. The cantilever probe with a micron-sized bead was used to exert nano-loading force onto the PDLCs. The related signal of NO was then recorded simultaneously. The results show that PDLCs hold strong networks of stress fibers as well as high elastic modulus value, exhibiting the ability for better counteracting the external forces. In the mechano-transduction studies, an initial increase and subsequent drop in intracellular NO response was found. Furthermore, NO may diffuse from a stimulated cell to adjacent cells. In conclusion, our single-cell nano-mechanical study provides a significant advancement in elucidating the magnitude, location, time scale, and biomolecular mechanisms underlying cell mechano-transduction.

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Liang Shi, Shenggen Shi, Jing Li, Quanmei Sun, Kai Feng, Peipei Chen, Shaoyan Si, Long Chen, Ye Li, Ping Dang, Chuhua Tang, Dong Han. AFM and fluorescence imaging of nanomechanical response in periodontal ligament cells. Frontiers in Bioscience-Elite. 2010. 2(3); 1028-1041.