Mas, Josep3; Richardson, Andrew Callum4; Reihani, S. Nader S.4; Oddershede, Lene B.4; Berg-Sørensen, Kirstine1
1 Department of Physics, Technical University of Denmark2 Biophysics and Fluids, Department of Physics, Technical University of Denmark3 Technical University of Denmark4 University of Copenhagen
With the success of in vitro single-molecule force measurements obtained in recent years, the next step is to perform quantitative force measurements inside a living cell. Optical traps have proven excellent tools for manipulation, also in vivo, where they can be essentially non-invasive under correct wavelength and exposure conditions. It is a pre-requisite for in vivo quantitative force measurements that a precise and reliable force calibration of the tweezers is performed. There are well-established calibration protocols in purely viscous environments; however, as the cellular cytoplasm is viscoelastic, it would be incorrect to use a calibration procedure relying on a viscous environment. Here we demonstrate a method to perform a correct force calibration inside a living cell. This method (theoretically proposed in Fischer and Berg-Sørensen (2007 J. Opt. A: Pure Appl. Opt. 9 S239)) takes into account the viscoelastic properties of the cytoplasm and relies on a combination of active and passive recordings of the motion of the cytoplasmic object of interest. The calibration procedure allows us to extract absolute values for the viscoelastic moduli of the living cell cytoplasm as well as the force constant describing the optical trap, thus paving the way for quantitative force measurements inside the living cell. Here, we determine both the spring constant of the optical trap and the elastic contribution from the cytoplasm, influencing the motion of naturally occurring tracer particles. The viscoelastic moduli that we find are of the same order of magnitude as moduli found in other cell types by alternative methods.