Myriad DNA-binding proteins undergo dynamic assembly, translocation, and conformational changes while on DNA or alter the physical configuration of the DNA substrate to control its metabolism. It is now possible to directly observe these activities—often central to the protein function—thanks to the advent of single-molecule fluorescence- and force-based techniques. In particular, the integration of fluorescence detection and force manipulation has unlocked multidimensional measurements of protein–DNA interactions and yielded unprecedented mechanistic insights into the biomolecular processes that orchestrate cellular life. In this review, we first introduce the different experimental geometries developed for single-molecule correlative force and fluorescence microscopy, with a focus on optical tweezers as the manipulation technique. We then describe the utility of these integrative platforms for imaging protein dynamics on DNA and chromatin, as well as their unique capabilities in generating complex DNA configurations and uncovering force-dependent protein behaviors. Finally, we give a perspective on the future directions of this emerging research field.

Expected final online publication date for the , Volume 53 is May 2024. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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