High-resolution visualization of fibrinogen molecules and fibrin fibers with atomic force microscopy

Ivan S. Yermolenko, Valeryi K. Lishko, Tatiana Ugarova, Sergei N. Magonov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


We report an atomic force microscopy (AFM) study of fibrinogen molecules and fibrin fibers with resolution previously achieved only in few electron microscopy images. Not only are all objects triads, but the peripheral D regions are resolved into the two subdomains, apparently corresponding to the βC and γC domains. The conformational analysis of a large population of fibrinogen molecules on mica revealed the two most energetically favorable conformations characterized by bending angles of ∼100 and 160 degrees. Computer modeling of the experimental images of fibrinogen molecules showed that the AFM patterns are in good agreement with the molecular dimensions and shapes detected by other methods. Imaging in different environments supports the expected hydration of the fibrinogen molecules in buffer, whereas imaging in humid air suggests the 2D spreading of fibrinogen on mica induced by an adsorbed water layer. Visualization of intact hydrated fibrin fibers showed cross-striations with an axial period of 24.0 ± 1.6 nm, in agreement with a pattern detected earlier with electron microscopy and small-angle X-ray diffraction. However, this order is clearly detected on the surface of thin fibers and becomes less discernible with the fibers growth. This structural change is consistent with the proposal that thinner fibers are denser than thicker ones, that is, that the molecule packing decreases with the increasing of the fibers diameter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)370-379
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 14 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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