Sensing Dynamically Evolved Short‐Range Nanomechanical Forces in Fast‐Mutating Single Viral Spike Proteins

Amir Farokh Payam, Riccardo Funari, Gaetano Scamarcio, Nikhil Bhalla

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Understanding changes in the mechanical features of a single protein from a mutated virus while establishing its relation to the point mutations is critical in developing new inhibitory routes to tackle the uncontrollable spread of the virus. Addressing this, herein, the chemomechanical features of a single spike protein are quantified from alpha, beta, and gamma variants of SARS‐CoV‐2. Integrated amplitude‐modulation atomic force microscopy is used with dynamic force–distance curve (FDC) spectroscopy, in combination with theoretical models, to quantify Young's modulus, stiffness, adhesion forces, van der Waals forces, and the dissipative energy of single spike proteins. These obtained nanomechanical properties can be correlated with mutations in the individual proteins. Therefore, this work opens new possibilities to understand how the mechanical properties of a single spike protein relate to the viral functions. Additionally, single‐protein nanomechanical experiments enable a variety of applications that, collectively, may build up a new portfolio of understanding protein biochemistry during the evolution of viruses.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2300029
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalSmall Science
Issue number8
Early online date11 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 11 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Small Science published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.


  • Hamakar constant
  • single-proteins
  • viruses
  • nanomechanics


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