1887

Abstract

Aggregation of microbial cells mediated by specific interactions plays a pivotal role in the natural environment, in medicine and in biotechnological processes. Here we used atomic force microscopy (AFM) to measure individual lectin–carbohydrate interactions involved in the flocculation of yeast cells, an aggregation event of crucial importance in fermentation technology. AFM probes functionalized with oligoglucose carbohydrates were used to record force-distance curves on living yeast cells at a rate of 0·5 μm s. Flocculating cells showed adhesion forces of 121±53 pN, reflecting the specific interaction between individual cell-surface lectins and glucose residues. Similar adhesion forces, 117±41 pN, were measured using probes functionalized with the lectin concanavalin A and attributed to specific binding to cell-surface mannose residues. By contrast, specific interaction forces were not observed in non-flocculating conditions, i.e. in the presence of mannose or when using non-flocculating cells, pointing to their involvement in yeast flocculation. The single molecule force spectroscopy measurements presented here provide a means to study a variety of cellular interactions at the molecular level, such as the adhesion of bacteria to animal and plant tissues.

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2003-10-01
2020-04-08
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