Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Magnetic tweezers unravel cellular mechanics

By injecting tiny magnetic beads into a living cell and manipulating them with a magnetic ‘tweezer’, scientists of the University of Twente succeed in getting to know more about the mechanics of the cell nucleus.

The way DNA is ‘translated’ into the specific functions of the cell strongly depends on the mechanics, so this information is of great value. Scientists Anthony de Vries, Hans Kanger and Vinod Subramaniam of the Biophysical Engineering Group present their results in Nano Letters.

The spatial organization in a living cell tells a lot about the way the cell works and the molecular processes within. It is clearly indicated that the mechanical properties of DNA and chromatin –the complex of DNA and proteins- play a major role in the activity of thousands of genes. Gene expression, in which DNA expresses itself in functional proteins, seems to depend highly on these mechanical properties. Until now, only individual chromosomes have been investigated: the new method allows scientists to monitor the mechanical properties of chromatin within the cell and investigate the internal structure of the cell nucleus.

Three magnets

The UT-scientists therefore inject a bead into the cell nucleus using a micro pipette. The bead is about 1 micron in diameter. The cell is placed in the centre of three tiny magnets (micron dimensions). Each of them can generate a force on the bead. From the nanometer distances the bead is allowed to move, the elasticity and viscosity of the chromatin can be determined. Using an intuitive polymer model of chromatin, the organization of chromatin within the cell can then be predicted: they organize themselves within domains not entirely filling the nucleus.

The scientists say that their technique is a crucial step towards magnetic nanodevices that can be implanted in a living cell, functioning as biosensors for monitoring chemical and physical processes in cell and tissue. It will also become possible to interact with these processes using the magnetic technique.

The research has been conducted within the Biophysical Engineering Group (, part of the BMTI Institute for Biomedical Technology and the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, both at the University of Twente.

Wiebe van der Veen | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht First results of NSTX-U research operations
26.10.2016 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

nachricht Scientists discover particles similar to Majorana fermions
25.10.2016 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

3-D-printed structures shrink when heated

26.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow

26.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

First results of NSTX-U research operations

26.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>