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Cell Signaling Experiments Driven by Optical Manipulation

Department of Neuroscience and Brain Technologies (NBT), Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), Via Morego 30, Genoa 16163, Italy
Centre for Biomedical Sciences and Engineering, University of Nova Gorica, Vipavska 13, Rožna Dolina, Nova Gorica SI-5000, Slovenia
Optical Manipulation Lab, Institute of Materials–National Research Council (IOM-CNR), Area Science Park-Basovizza, S.S. 14, km 163.5, Trieste 34149, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2013, 14(5), 8963-8984;
Received: 12 February 2013 / Revised: 8 April 2013 / Accepted: 14 April 2013 / Published: 25 April 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Signalling Molecules and Signal Transduction in Cells)
PDF [1299 KB, uploaded 19 June 2014]


Cell signaling involves complex transduction mechanisms in which information released by nearby cells or extracellular cues are transmitted to the cell, regulating fundamental cellular activities. Understanding such mechanisms requires cell stimulation with precise control of low numbers of active molecules at high spatial and temporal resolution under physiological conditions. Optical manipulation techniques, such as optical tweezing, mechanical stress probing or nano-ablation, allow handling of probes and sub-cellular elements with nanometric and millisecond resolution. PicoNewton forces, such as those involved in cell motility or intracellular activity, can be measured with femtoNewton sensitivity while controlling the biochemical environment. Recent technical achievements in optical manipulation have new potentials, such as exploring the actions of individual molecules within living cells. Here, we review the progress in optical manipulation techniques for single-cell experiments, with a focus on force probing, cell mechanical stimulation and the local delivery of active molecules using optically manipulated micro-vectors and laser dissection. View Full-Text
Keywords: cell signaling; optical manipulation; optical force probing; local delivery; laser nano-ablation; force spectroscopy; mechanotransduction cell signaling; optical manipulation; optical force probing; local delivery; laser nano-ablation; force spectroscopy; mechanotransduction

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Difato, F.; Pinato, G.; Cojoc, D. Cell Signaling Experiments Driven by Optical Manipulation. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2013, 14, 8963-8984.

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