Imaging of nucleic acids with atomic force microscopy

Yuri L. Lyubchenko, Luda S. Shlyakhtenko, Toshio Ando

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a key tool of nanotechnology with great importance in applications to DNA nanotechnology and to the recently emerging field of RNA nanotechnology. Advances in the methodology of AFM now enable reliable and reproducible imaging of DNA of various structures, topologies, and DNA and RNA nanostructures. These advances are reviewed here with emphasis on methods utilizing modification of mica to prepare the surfaces enabling reliable and reproducible imaging of DNA and RNA nanostructures. Since the AFM technology for DNA is more mature, AFM imaging of DNA is introduced in this review to provide experience and background for the improvement of AFM imaging of RNA. Examples of imaging different structures of RNA and DNA are discussed and illustrated. Special attention is given to the potential use of AFM to image the dynamics of nucleic acids at the nanometer scale. As such, we review recent advances with the use of time-lapse AFM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-283
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • AFM
  • Atomic force microscopy
  • DNA dynamics
  • DNA nanostructures
  • High-speed AFM
  • Holliday junctions
  • RNA assembly
  • RNA nanostructures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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