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image3_Interplay Between Receptor-Ligand Binding and Lipid Domain Formation Depends on the Mobility of Ligands in Cell-Substrate Adhesion.eps
Cell-cell adhesion and the adhesion of cells to extracellular matrix are mediated by the specific binding of receptors on the cell membrane to their cognate ligands on the opposing surface. The adhesion receptors can exhibit affinity for nanoscale lipid clusters that form in the cell membrane. Experimental studies of such adhesion systems often involve a cell adhering either to a solid surface with immobile ligands or a supported lipid bilayer with mobile ligands. A central question in these cell-substrate adhesions is how the mobility of the ligands physically affects their binding to the adhesion receptors and thereby the behavior of the nanoscale lipid clusters associated with the receptors. Using a statistical mechanical model and Monte Carlo simulations for the adhesion of cells to substrates with ligands, we find that, for mobile ligands, binding to adhesion receptors can promote the formation of mesoscale lipid domains, which in turn enhances the receptor-ligand binding. However, in the case of immobile ligands, the receptor-ligand binding and the tendency for the nanoscale lipid clusters to further coalesce depend on the distribution of the ligands on the substrate. Our findings help to explain why different adhesion experiments for identifying the interplay between receptor-ligand binding and heterogeneities in cell membranes led to contradictory results.