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Access to the article is free, however registration and sign-in are required. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is an elegant technique in which a roving microscopic needle tip provides images of the surfaces of objects beneath it. In a Perspective, Forbes and Lorimer discuss how AFM can be applied to the step-wise unfolding of membrane proteins such as bacteriorhodopsin (Oesterhelt et al.). When the AFM tip becomes attached to points on the protein exposed on the membrane surface, the protein unfolds, helix by helix, as the tip is withdrawn.
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