Confinement and Manipulation of Actin Filaments by Electric Fields
When an AC electric field was applied across a small gap between two metal electrodes elevated above a surface, rhodamine-phalloidin-labeled actin filaments were attracted to the gap and became suspended between the two electrodes. The variance 〈s2(x)〉 of each filament's horizontal, lateral displacement was measured as a function of electric field intensity and position along the filament. 〈s2(x)〉 markedly decreased as the electric field intensity increased. Hypothesizing that the electric field induces tension in the filament, we estimated the tension using a linear, Brownian dynamic model. Our experimental method provides a novel means for trapping and manipulating biological filaments and for probing the surface conductance and mechanical properties of single polymers.