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Nat Chem. 2011 Apr;3(4):317-22. doi: 10.1038/nchem.1005. Epub 2011 Mar 6.

Gradient-driven motion of multivalent ligand molecules along a surface functionalized with multiple receptors.

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Molecular Nanofabrication Group, MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, University of Twente, PO Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands.


The kinetics of multivalent (multisite) interactions at interfaces is poorly understood, despite its fundamental importance for molecular or biomolecular motion and molecular recognition events at biological interfaces. Here, we use fluorescence microscopy to monitor the spreading of mono-, di- and trivalent ligand molecules on a receptor-functionalized surface, and perform multiscale computer simulations to understand the surface diffusion mechanisms. Analogous to chemotaxis, we found that the spreading is directional (along a developing gradient of vacant receptor sites) and is strongly dependent on ligand valency and concentration of a competing monovalent receptor in solution. We identify multiple surface diffusion mechanisms, which we call walking, hopping and flying. The study shows that the interfacial behaviour of multivalent systems is much more complex than that of monovalent ones.

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