Characterizing selectin-ligand bonds using atomic force microscopy (AFM)

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Sarangapani, Krishna Kumar
Zhu, Cheng
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The human body is an intricate network of many highly regulated biochemical processes and cell adhesion is one of them. Cell adhesion is mediated by specific interactions between molecules on apposing cell surfaces and is critical to many physiological and pathological processes like inflammation and cancer metastasis. During inflammation, blood-borne circulating leukocytes regularly stick to and roll on the vessel walls, which consist in part, adhesive contacts mediated by the selectin family of adhesion receptors (P-, E- and L-selectin). This is the beginning of a multi-step cascade that ultimately leads to leukocyte recruitment in areas of injury or infection. In vivo, selectin-mediated interactions take place in a hydrodynamic milieu and hence, it becomes imperative to study these interactions under very similar conditions in vitro. The goal of this project was to characterize the kinetic and mechanical properties of selectin interactions with different physiologically relevant ligands and selectin-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) under a mechanically stressful milieu, using atomic force microscopy (AFM). Elasticity studies revealed that bulk of the complex compliance came from the selectins, with the ligands or mAbs acting as relatively stiffer components in the stretch experiments. Furthermore, molecular elasticity was inversely related to selectin length with the Consensus Repeats (CRs) behaving as Hookean springs in series. Besides, monomeric vs. dimeric interactions could be clearly distinguished from the elasticity measurements. L-selectin dissociation studies with P-selectin Glycoprotein Ligand 1 (PSGL-1) and Endoglycan revealed that catch bonds operated at low forces while slip bonds were observed at higher forces. These results were consistent with previous P-selectin studies and suggested that catch bonds could contribute to the shear threshold for L-selectin-mediated rolling By contrast, only slip bonds were observed for L-selectin-antibody interactions, suggesting that catch bonds could be a common characteristic of selectin-ligand interactions. Force History studies revealed that off-rates of L-selectin-sPSGL-1 (or 2-GSP-6) interactions were not just dependent on applied force, as has been widely accepted but in fact, depended on the entire history of force application, thus providing a new paradigm for how force could regulate bio-molecular interactions. Characterizing selectin-ligand interactions at the molecular level, devoid of cellular contributions, is essential in understanding the role played by molecular properties in leukocyte adhesion kinetics. In this aspect, data obtained from this project will not only add to the existing body of knowledge but also provide new insights into mechanisms by which selectins initiate leukocyte adhesion in shear.
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