We report the effects of ligand presentation on the binding of aqueous proteins to solid supported lipid bilayers. Specifically, we show that the equilibrium dissociation constant can be strongly affected by ligand lipophilicity and linker length/structure. The apparent equilibrium dissociation constants (KD) were compared for two model systems, biotin/anti-biotin and 2,4-dinitrophenyl (DNP)/anti-DNP, in bulk solution and at model membrane surfaces. The binding constants in solution were obtained from fluorescence anisotropy measurements. The surface binding constants were determined by microfluidic techniques in conjunction with total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy. The results showed that the bulk solution equilibrium dissociation constants for anti-biotin and anti-DNP were almost identical, KD(bulk) = 1.7 ± 0.2 nM vs. 2.9 ± 0.1 nM. By contrast, the dissociation constant for anti-biotin antibody was three orders of magnitude tighter than for anti-DNP at a lipid membrane interface, K D = 3.6 ± 1.1 nM vs. 2.0 ± 0.2 μM. We postulate that the pronounced difference in surface binding constants for these two similar antibodies is due to differences in the ligands' relative lipophilicity, i.e., the more hydrophobic DNP molecules had a stronger interaction with the lipid bilayers, rendering them less available to incoming anti-DNP antibodies compared with the biotin/anti-biotin system. However, when membrane-bound biotin ligands were well screened by a poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) polymer brush, the K D value for the anti-biotin antibody could also be weakened by three orders of magnitude, 2.4 ± 1.1 μM. On the other hand, the dissociation constant for anti-DNP antibodies at a lipid interface could be significantly enhanced when DNP haptens were tethered to the end of very long hydrophilic PEG lipopolymers (KD = 21 ± 10 nM) rather than presented on short lipid-conjugated tethers. These results demonstrate that ligand presentation strongly influences protein interactions with membrane-bound ligands.
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