Optimization of protein–protein interaction measurements for drug discovery using AFM force spectroscopy

Yongliang Yang, Bixi Zeng, Zhiyong Sun, Amir Monemian Esfahani, Jing Hou, Nian Dong Jiao, Lianqing Liu, Liangliang Chen, Marc D. Basson, Lixin Dong, Ruiguo Yang, Ning Xi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increasingly targeted in drug discovery, protein–protein interactions challenge current high throughput screening technologies in the pharmaceutical industry. Developing an effective and efficient method for screening small molecules or compounds is critical to accelerate the discovery of ligands for enzymes, receptors, and other pharmaceutical targets. Here, we report developments of methods to increase the signal-to-noise ratio for screening protein–protein interactions using atomic force microscopy (AFM) force spectroscopy. We have demonstrated the effectiveness of these developments on detecting the binding process between focal adhesion kinases with protein kinase B (Akt1), which is a target for potential cancer drugs. These developments include optimized probe and substrate functionalization processes and redesigned probe-substrate contact regimes. Furthermore, a statistical-based data processing method was developed to enhance the contrast of the experimental data. Collectively, these results demonstrate the potential of the AFM force spectroscopy in automating drug screening with high throughput.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)509-517
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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