Facile surface modification with hexamethyldisilazane to generate atomically flat and hydrophobic substrates for filament gliding assays with molecular motors



In vitro gliding assay is a well-established assay for determining the activity of protein motors, such as actin-associated myosins and microtubule-associated kinesins and dyneins. In one of the conventional methods, protein motors are immobilized onto a nitrocellulose-coated coverslip and it propels actin filaments in the presence of ATP. Gliding assays also serve as the foundation for protein-motor-based nanotechnological devices such as biosensing and sorting. However, the preparation of nitrocellulose-coated coverslips is time-consuming and produces rough surfaces. Furthermore, the nitrocellulose film exhibits high background autofluorescence, which can be a problem in single-molecule measurements. Here, we investigated the use of hexamethyldisilazane (HMDS) to study actomyosin function and characterized its physical properties on glass coverslips and glass capillary tubes. We showed that the total preparation time to coat a coverslip with HMDS is <30 minutes, which is 1 order of magnitude faster than the >12-hour protocol for coating glass surfaces with nitrocellulose. In contrast to nitrocellulose film, HMDS vapor deposition is effortless and provides an atomically flat surface with low autofluorescence. In addition, HMDS does not interfere with myosin function, which is indicated by the similar actin gliding speed when compared with nitrocellulose. Our results show that HMDS vapor deposition is a more favorable surface treatment to nitrocellulose for in vitro gliding assay.

Version notes

We added the GitHub repository for Movies S1–S13.


Thumbnail image of HMDS_FinalDraft (7).pdf

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