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Journal Article

Correction-free force calibration for magnetic tweezers experiments


Dulin,  David
Max-Planck-Zentrum für Physik und Medizin, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Max Planck Society;
Junior Research Group 2, Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Research, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU);

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Ostrofet, E., Papini, F. S., & Dulin, D. (2018). Correction-free force calibration for magnetic tweezers experiments. Scientific Reports, 8: 15920. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-34360-4.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-AFD7-3
Magnetic tweezers are a powerful technique to perform high-throughput and high-resolution force spectroscopy experiments at the single-molecule level. The camera-based detection of magnetic tweezers enables the observation of hundreds of magnetic beads in parallel, and therefore the characterization of the mechanochemical behavior of hundreds of nucleic acids and enzymes. However, magnetic tweezers experiments require an accurate force calibration to extract quantitative data, which is limited to low forces if the deleterious effect of the finite camera open shutter time (tau(sh)) is not corrected. Here, we provide a simple method to perform correction-free force calibration for high-throughput magnetic tweezers at low image acquisition frequency (f(ac)). By significantly reducing tau(sh) to at least 4-fold the characteristic times of the tethered magnetic bead, we accurately evaluated the variance of the magnetic bead position along the axis parallel to the magnetic field, estimating the force with a relative error of similar to 10% (standard deviation), being only limited by the bead-to-bead difference. We calibrated several magnets - magnetic beads configurations, covering a force range from similar to 50 fN to similar to 60 pN. In addition, for the presented configurations, we provide a table with the mathematical expressions that describe the force as a function of the magnets position.