To determine the intermolecular force on protein-protein interaction (PPI) by atomic force microscopy (AFM), a photograft-polymer spacer for protein molecules on both surfaces of the substrate and AFM probe tip was developed, and its effectiveness was assessed in a PPI model of a pair of human serum albumin (HSA) and its monoclonal antibody (anti-HSA). A carboxylated photoiniferter, N-(dithiocarboxy)sarcosine, was derivatized on both surfaces of the glass substrate and AFM probe tip, and subsequently water-soluble nonionic vinyl monomers, N,N-dimethylacrylamide (DMAAm), were graft-polymerized on them upon ultraviolet light irradiation. DMAAm-photograft-polymerized spacers with carboxyl groups at the growing chain end but with different chain lengths on both surfaces were prepared. The proteins were covalently bound to the carboxyl terminus of the photograft-polymer chain using a water-soluble condensation agent. The effects of the graft-spacer length on the profile of the force-distance curves and on the unbinding characteristics (unbinding force and unbinding distance) were examined in comparison with those in the case of the commercially available poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) spacer. The frequency of the nonspecific adhesion force profile was markedly decreased with the use of the photograft spacers. Among the force curves detected, a high frequency of single-peak curves indicating the unbinding process of a single pair of proteins and a very low frequency of multiple-peak profiles were observed for the photograft spacers, regardless of the graft chain length, whereas a high frequency of no-force peaks was noted. These observations were in marked contrast with those for the PEG spacer. The force peak values determined ranged from 88 to 94 pN, irrespective of the type of spacer, while the standard deviation of force distribution observed for the photograft spacer was lower than that for the PEG spacer, indicating that the photograft spacers provide a higher accuracy of force determination.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry