The study of single proteins has always been tricky. First of all you need to locate them. Until today, most of the solutions involved the labeling of the molecules an then their attachment to something else: links, surfaces, etc. And the problem gets trickier if you want to study their dynamics.
A new promising technique that solves most of these problems has been recently proposed. Scientists at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience together with the Technische Universität München, have managed to create what they’ve called the NEOtrap: a functional nanopore electro-osmotic trap. As they describe it, “the NEOtrap is formed by docking a DNA-origami sphere onto a passivated solid-state nanopore, which seals off a nanocavity of a user-defined size and creates an electro-osmotic flow that traps nearby particles irrespective of their charge“.
This new technique, featured on the cover of Nature Nanotechnology, is another interdisciplinary finding at the intersection of biology and physics and it opens the door to the study of label-free single proteins dynamics.
We made this picture, under the close supervision of Sonja Schmid (first author) and Cees Dekker (last author) who is an old friend that always brings us cool, new exciting stuff to work with.