Interaction forces between colloids and protein-coated surfaces measured using an atomic force microscope

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Bacterial surfaces contain proteins, polysaccharides, and other biopolymers that can affect their adhesion to another surface. To better understand the role of proteins in bacterial adhesion, the interactions between two different model colloids (glass beads and carboxylated latex microspheres) and four proteins covalently bonded to glass surfaces were examined using colloid probes and an atomic force microscope (AFM). Adhesion forces between an uncoated glass colloid probe and protein-coated surfaces, measured in retraction force curves, decreased in the order poly-D-lysine > lysozyme > protein A > BSA. This ordering was consistent with the relative calculated charges of the proteins at neutral pH and the ζ-potentials measured for glass beads and latex microspheres coated with these proteins. When the glass bead was coated with a protein (BSA), overall adhesion forces between the protein-coated colloid and the protein-coated surfaces were reduced, and the adhesion force for each protein decreased in the same order observed in experiments with the uncoated glass bead. When latex colloid probes were coated with BSA, adhesion forces were significantly larger than those measured with BSA-coated glass colloid probes under the same conditions, demonstrating that the nature of the underlying colloid can affect the measured interaction forces. In addition, the adhesion forces measured with the BSA-coated latex colloid increased in a different order (BSA ≤ lysozyme < protein A < poly-D-lysine) than that observed using the BSA-coated glass colloid. It was also found that increasing the solution ionic strength consistently decreased adhesion forces. This result is contrary to the general observation that bacterial adhesion increases with ionic strength. It was speculated that conformational changes of the protein produced this decrease in adhesion with increased ionic strength. These results suggest the need to measure nanoscale adhesion forces in order to understand better molecular scale interactions between colloids and surfaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3592-3600
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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