Molecular motors couple chemical transitions to conformational changes that perform mechanical work in a wide variety of biological processes. Disruption of this coupling can lead to diseases, and therefore there is a need to accurately measure mechanochemical coupling in motors in both health and disease. Optical tweezers with nanometer spatial and millisecond temporal resolution have provided valuable insights into these processes. However, fluctuations due to Brownian motion can make it difficult to precisely resolve these conformational changes. One powerful analysis technique that has improved our ability to accurately measure mechanochemical coupling in motor proteins is ensemble averaging of individual trajectories. Here, we present a user-friendly computational tool, Software for Precise Analysis of Single Molecules (SPASM), for generating ensemble averages of single-molecule data. This tool utilizes several conceptual advances, including optimized procedures for identifying single-molecule interactions and the implementation of a change-point algorithm, to more precisely resolve molecular transitions. Using both simulated and experimental data, we demonstrate that these advances allow for accurate determination of the mechanics and kinetics of the myosin working stroke with a smaller set of data. Importantly, we provide our open-source MATLAB-based program with a graphical user interface that enables others to readily apply these advances to the analysis of their own data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-20
Number of pages11
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 5 2021


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