The ability of the atomic-force microscope (AFM) to detect interaction forces between individual biological molecules has recently been demonstrated. In this study, force measurements have been obtained between AFM probes functionalized with the β-subunit of human chorionic gonadotrophin (βhCG) and surfaces functionalized with anti-βhCG antibody. A comparison of the obtained results with previous anti-ferritin antibody-binding data identifies differences when the antigen molecule expresses only a single epitope (βhCG), rather than multiple epitopes (ferritin), for the monoclonal antibodies employed. Specifically, the probability of observing probe-sample adhesion is found to be higher when the antigen expresses multiple epitopes. However, the periodic force observed in the adhesive-force distribution, due to the rupture of single antigen-antibody interactions, is found to be larger and more clearly observed for the mono-epitopic system. Hence, these findings indicate the potential of the AFM to distinguish between multivalent and monovalent antibody-antigen interactions, and demonstrate the influence of the number of expressed epitopes upon such binding studies.
- force measurements
- human chorionic gonadotrophin β-subunit
- protein interaction
- scanning-probe microscopy
- The Biochemical Society, London © 1998