Double-stranded DNA force sensors to study the molecular level forces required to activate signaling pathways


Single-molecule force measurement techniques provide unique opportunities to investigate simple molecular interactions and complicated force-induced cell responses. This has revolutionized our understanding of how mechanical cues influence cell behaviors. Recent advances in DNA technologies have led to the development of tension sensors for high-throughput screening of pN scale forces with single-molecule precision. Thus, the emerging DNA-based mechano-sensors are replacing conventional single-molecule force spectroscopes. This review provides an overview of double-stranded DNA-based mechano-sensors, such as the tension gauge tether (TGT) and its derivatives, and their biophysical applications. First, we review the theoretical background of the force-induced rupture of DNA duplexes and force sensing mechanisms using DNA structures. Next, we survey the use of double-stranded DNA-based force sensors to study the role of mechanical forces, mostly receptor tensions, in signaling pathways.

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This work was supported by the Incheon National University Research Grant in 2017.

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Correspondence to Byoung Choul Kim.

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Kim, Y., Kim, K.A. & Kim, B.C. Double-stranded DNA force sensors to study the molecular level forces required to activate signaling pathways. J. Korean Phys. Soc. 78, 386–392 (2021).

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  • Mechanobiology
  • Single-molecule force measurement
  • TGT
  • DNA-based force probe
  • Integrin tension