Forces of Change: Optical Tweezers in Membrane Remodeling Studies

Sudheer K. Cheppali, Raviv Dharan, Raya Sorkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Abstract: Optical tweezers allow precise measurement of forces and distances with piconewton and nanometer precision, and have thus been instrumental in elucidating the mechanistic details of various biological processes. Some examples include the characterization of motor protein activity, studies of protein–DNA interactions, and characterizing protein folding trajectories. The use of optical tweezers (OT) to study membranes is, however, much less abundant. Here, we review biophysical studies of membranes that utilize optical tweezers, with emphasis on various assays that have been developed and their benefits and limitations. First, we discuss assays that employ membrane-coated beads, and overview protein–membrane interactions studies based on manipulation of such beads. We further overview a body of studies that make use of a very powerful experimental tool, the combination of OT, micropipette aspiration, and fluorescence microscopy, that allow detailed studies of membrane curvature generation and sensitivity. Finally, we describe studies focused on membrane fusion and fission. We then summarize the overall progress in the field and outline future directions. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-690
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Membrane Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2022


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation1289/20


    • Membrane biophysics
    • Membrane remodeling
    • Membrane shaping
    • Optical tweezers


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