A novel biomimetic system was used to study collective and single-molecule interactions of the α5β1 receptor-GRGDSP ligand system with an atomic force microscope (AFM). Bioartificial membranes, which display peptides that mimic the cell adhesion domain of the extracellular matrix protein fibronectin, are constructed from peptide-amphiphiles. The interaction measured with the immobilized α5β1 integrins and GRGDSP peptide-amphiphiles is specifically related to the integrin−peptide binding. It is affected by divalent cations in a way that accurately mimics the adhesion function of the α5β1 receptor. The recognition of the immobilized receptor was significantly increased for a surface that presented both the primary recognition site (GRGDSP) and the synergy site (PHSRN) compared to the adhesion measured with surfaces that displayed only the GRGDSP peptide. At the collective level, the separation process of the receptor−ligand pairs is a combination of multiple unbinding and stretching events that can accurately be described by the wormlike chain (WLC) model of polymer elasticity. In contrast, stretching was not observed at the single-molecule level. The dissociation of single α5β1-GRGDSP pairs under loading rates of 1−305 nN/s revealed the presence of two activation energy barriers in the unbinding process. The high-strength regime above 59 nN/s maps the inner barrier at a distance of 0.09 nm along the direction of the force. Below 59 nN/s a low-strength regime appears with an outer barrier at 2.77 nm and a much slower transition rate that defines the dissociation rate (off-rate) in the absence of force (koff° = 0.015 s-1).
- Kokkoli, E., Ochsenhirt, S.E., and Tirrell, M. "Collective and Single-Molecule Interactions of α5β1 Integrins", Langmuir, 2004, 20 (6): 2397-2404.
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