Analysis of receptor-ligand binding characteristics can be greatly hampered by the presence of non-specific binding, defined as low-affinity binding to non-receptor domains which is not saturable within the range of ligand concentrations used. Conventional binding analyses, e.g. according to the methods described by Scatchard or Klotz, relate the amount of specific receptor-ligand binding to the concentration of free ligand, and therefore require assumptions on the amount of non-specific binding. In this paper a method is described for determining the parameters of specific receptor-ligand interaction which does not require any assumption or separate determination of the amount of non-specific binding. If the concentration of labelled free ligand is constant, a plot of Fu/(B0*-B*) versus Fu yields a linear relationship, in the case of a single receptor class, in which Fu is the concentration of unlabelled free ligand, B0* is the total amount of labelled bound ligand in the absence of unlabelled ligand and B* is the total amount of labelled bound ligand in the presence of an unlabelled ligand concentration Fu; all of these data are readily obtained from binding studies. This linear relationship holds irrespective of the amount of non-specific binding, and the values for receptor density, ligand dissociation constant and a constant for non-specific binding can be readily obtained from it. If the concentration of labelled free ligand is not a constant for all data points, data are first converted according to a straightforward normalization procedure to permit the use of this relationship. The presence of multiple receptor classes with dissociation constants in the range of the ligand concentrations used results in a negative deviation from this linearity, and therefore the presence of multiple receptor classes can be discriminated unequivocally from non-specific binding. Both theoretical and practical advantages of the present method are described. The method, which will be referred to as the linear subtraction method, is illustrated using the binding of tumour promoters and polypeptide growth factors to their specific cellular receptors.
- © 1989 London: The Biochemical Society