Single molecule approaches to the characterization of biochemical systems offer an intrinsically simple and direct approach to address difficult, previously unyielding problems. Optically based approaches have recently been used to construct high resolution, ordered restriction maps from a variety of clone types. Advancements in surface technologies have enabled the reliable elongation and fixation of large DNA molecules onto specially derivatized substrates with retention of biochemical accessibility. In this study, the addition of fluorescently labeled nucleotides to surface-mounted DNA molecules by the action of DNA polymerase I is investigated using fluorescence microscopy to image individual template molecules. Molecules undergoing nick translation and containing only a few fluorochromes are readily imaged. These novel results suggest that surface-bound molecules may serve as a substrate for a broad range of enzymatic actions, and may offer new routes to analysis when coupled to advanced imaging techniques.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.