Bacterial microcompartments (BMCs) are polyhedral protein organelles in many prokaryotes, playing significant roles in metabolic enhancement. Due to their self-assembly and modularity nature, BMCs have gained increased interest in recent years, with the intent of constructing new nanobioreactors and scaffolding to promote cellular metabolisms and molecule delivery. In this chapter, we describe the technique of atomic force microscopy (AFM) as a method to study the self-assembly dynamics and physical properties of BMCs. We focus on the sample preparation, the measurement procedure, and the data analysis for high-speed AFM imaging and nanoindentation-based spectroscopy, which were used to determine the assembly dynamics of BMC shell proteins and the nanomechanics of intact BMC structures, respectively. The described methods could be applied to the study of other types of self-assembling biological organelles.
Rodriguez-Ramos, J., Faulkner, M., & Liu, L. N. (2018). Nanoscale visualization of bacterial microcompartments using atomic force microscopy. In Methods in Molecular Biology (Vol. 1814, pp. 373–383). Humana Press Inc. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-8591-3_22