A Systematic Investigation of Differential Effects of Cell Culture Substrates on the Extent of Artifacts in Single-Molecule Tracking

>Single-molecule techniques are being increasingly applied to biomedical investigation, notwithstanding the numerous challenges they pose in terms of signal-to-noise ratio issues. Non-specific binding of probes to glass substrates, in particular, can produce experimental artifacts due to spurious molecules on glass, which can be particularly deleterious in live-cell tracking experiments. In order to resolve the issue of non-specific probe binding to substrates, we performed systematic testing of a range of available surface coatings, using three different proteins, and then extended our assessment to the ability of these coatings to foster cell growth and retain non-adhesive properties. Linear PEG, a passivating agent commonly used both in immobilized-molecule single-molecule techniques and in tissue engineering, is able to both successfully repel non-specific adhesion of fluorescent probes and to foster cell growth when functionalized with appropriate adhesive peptides. Linear PEG treatment results in a significant reduction of tracking artifacts in EGFR tracking with Affibody ligands on a cell line expressing EGFR-eGFP. The findings reported herein could be beneficial to a large number of experimental situations where single-molecule or single-particle precision is required.

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Source URL:http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0045655