Progress towards rapid and simple characterization of biomolecular samples by scanning probe microscopy is impeded mainly by limitations of the current approach to sample preparation. We are working on approaches based on chemical functionalization of mica. Treatment of mica with aminopropyltriethoxy silane (APTES) makes the surface positively charged (AP-mica) and able to hold DNA in place for imaging, even in water. We have shown that AP-mica is an appropriate substrate for numerous nucleoprotein complexes as well. The AFM images of the complex of DNA with RecA protein are stable and indicate a structural periodicity for this filament. AP-mica holds strongly such large DNA complexes as kinetoplast DNA (kDNA) and is an appropriate substrate for their imaging with AFM. We have further develop this approach for making hydrophobic substrates. Silylation of mica surface with hexamethyldisilazane (Me-mica) allowed us to get AFM images of chlorosomes, an antenna complex isolated from green photosynthetic bacteria. Me-mica may be converted into a positively charged substrate after treatment with water solutions of tetraethylammonium bromide or cetyltrimethylammonium bromide. These activated surfaces show high activity towards binding the DNA molecules.
Lyubchenko, Yuri L.; Blankenship, Robert E.; Gall, Alexander A.; Lindsay, S. M.; Thiemann, Ottavio; Simpson, Larry; and Shlyakhtenko, Luda S.
"Atomic Force Microscopy of DNA, Nucleoproteins and Cellular Complexes: The Use of Functionalized Substrates,"
Scanning Microscopy: Vol. 1996
, Article 9.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/microscopy/vol1996/iss10/9