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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2006 Sep 15;348(1):238-44. Epub 2006 Jul 20.

Force profiles of protein pulling with or without cytoskeletal links studied by AFM.

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Laboratory of Biodynamics, Department of Life Science, Graduate School of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 4259 Nagatsuta, Midori-ku, Yokohama 226-8501, Japan.


To test the capability of the atomic force microscope for distinguishing membrane proteins with/without cytoskeletal associations, we studied the pull-out mechanics of lipid tethers from the red blood cell (RBC). When wheat germ agglutinin, a glycophorin A (GLA) specific lectin, was used to pull out tethers from RBC, characteristic force curves for tether elongation having a long plateau force were observed but without force peaks which are usually attributed to the forced unbinding of membrane components from the cytoskeleton. The result was in agreement with the reports that GLA is substantially free of cytoskeletal interactions. On the contrary, when the Band 3 specific lectin, concanavalin A, was used, the force peaks were indeed observed together with a plateau supporting its reported cytoskeletal association. Based on these observations, we postulate that the state of cytoskeletal association of particular membrane proteins can be identified from the force profiles of their pull-out mechanics.

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