Impact of receptor-ligand distance on adhesion cluster stability
Authors: Erdmann T, Schwarz US
CellNetworks People: Schwarz Ulrich
Journal: Eur Phys J E Soft Matter. 2007 Feb;22(2):123-37

Cells in multicellular organisms adhere to the extracellular matrix through two-dimensional clusters spanning a size range from very few to thousands of adhesion bonds. For many common receptor-ligand systems, the ligands are tethered to a surface via polymeric spacers with finite binding range, thus adhesion cluster stability crucially depends on receptor-ligand distance. We introduce a one-step master equation which incorporates the effect of cooperative binding through a finite number of polymeric ligand tethers. We also derive Fokker-Planck and mean field equations as continuum limits of the master equation. Polymers are modeled either as harmonic springs or as worm-like chains. In both cases, we find bistability between bound and unbound states for intermediate values of receptor-ligand distance and calculate the corresponding switching times. For small cluster sizes, stochastic effects destabilize the clusters at large separation, as shown by a detailed analysis of the stochastic potential resulting from the Fokker-Planck equation.