Force dependency of biochemical reactions measured by single-molecule force-clamp spectroscopy
Here we describe a protocol for using force-clamp spectroscopy to precisely quantify the effect of force on biochemical reactions. A calibrated force is used to control the exposure of reactive sites in a single polyprotein substrate composed of repeated domains. The use of polyproteins allows the identification of successful single-molecule recordings from unambiguous mechanical unfolding fingerprints. Biochemical reactions are then measured directly by detecting the length changes of the substrate held at a constant force. We present the layout of a force-clamp spectrometer along with protocols to design and conduct experiments. These experiments measure reaction kinetics as a function of applied force. We show sample data of the force dependency of two different reactions, protein unfolding and disulfide reduction. These data, which can be acquired in just a few days, reveal mechanistic details of the reactions that currently cannot be resolved by any other technique.