Force probing surfaces of living cells to molecular resolution

Nat Chem Biol. 2009 Jun;5(6):383-90. doi: 10.1038/nchembio.181.


Biological processes rely on molecular interactions that can be directly measured using force spectroscopy techniques. Here we review how atomic force microscopy can be applied to force probe surfaces of living cells to single-molecule resolution. Such probing of individual interactions can be used to map cell surface receptors, and to assay the receptors' functional states, binding kinetics and landscapes. This information provides unique insight into how cells structurally and functionally modulate the molecules of their surfaces to interact with the cellular environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism


  • Receptors, Cell Surface