PerspectiveStructural Biology

Unraveling a Membrane Protein

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Science  07 Apr 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5463, pp. 63-64
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5463.63

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Summary

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is an elegant technique in which a roving microscopic needle tip provides images of the surfaces of objects beneath it. In a Perspective, Forbes and Lorimer discuss how AFM can be applied to the step-wise unfolding of membrane proteins such as bacteriorhodopsin ( Oesterhelt et al.). When the AFM tip becomes attached to points on the protein exposed on the membrane surface, the protein unfolds, helix by helix, as the tip is withdrawn.